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Full text of "Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe"

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1831- 1836, 




IF y iE 'S Q A S^ . 
(tapoo tekeeitica) 

T'onLrr-LO-ti COTS 

PtQiKftheatfy Henry ColiTurr.. Greai. SdarTbarou^ Street. 16b8. 






THE YEARS 1826 AND 1836, 












Printed by J. L. Cox and Sons. 75, Great Queen Street, 

Lincoln's-Inn Fields. 




Explanation — Natives of Tierra del Fuego, or Fuegians — Pas- 
sages across theEqimtor (Atlantic) — Letters — Small-pox 
— Hospital — Boat — Memory — Fuegians in London — At 
Walthamstow — At St. James's — Beagle re-commis- 
sioned — Correspondence with Mr. WUson — Fuegians re- 


Hydrographer's Opinion — Continuation of Survey — Chain 
of Meridian Distances — Efficient Arrangements — Repair 
and raise Deck — Outfit — Boats — Lightning-Conductors 
— ^Rudder — Stove — Windlass — Chronometers — Mr. Dar- 
win — Persons on board — Changes — List of those who 
returned — Supphes — Admiralty Instructions — Memoran- 
d\mi — Hydrographer's Memorandum 17 


Ready for sea — Detained — Sail from England — ^Well pro- 
vided — Bay of Biscay — Compasses — Local attraction — 
Eight Stones — Madeira — Deception — Squall — TenerifFe 
— Santa Cruz — Quarantine — Squalls — Cape Verde Islands 
— Port Praya — Produce — Orchilla — Bad season — St. Paul 
Rocks — Cross Equator — Fernando de Noronha — Bahia — 
Slavery — Abrolhos — Cape Frio 42 



Loss of the Thetis — Causes of her -wTeck — Approach to Rio 
de Janeiro — Owen Glendower — Disturbance in Rio 
Harbour — Observations — Chronometers — Return to Ba- 
hia — Deaths — Macacu — Malaria — Return to Rio de 
Janeiro — Meridian Distances — Regatta — Fuegians — 
Lightning — Leave Rio — Equipment — Santa Martha — 
Weather — Santa Catharina — Santos — River Plata — Pam- 
peroes — Gales off Buenos Ayres — Monte Video — Point 
Piedras — Cape San Antonio — River Plata — Currents — 
Tides — Barometer — Absence of Trees — Cattle 67 


Eastern Pampa Coast — Point Medanos — Mar-chiquito — 
Ranges of HiUs — Direction of Inlets, Shoals, and Rivers 
— Cape Corrientes — Tosca Coast — Blanco Bay — Mount 
Hermoso — Port Belgrano — Mr. Harris — Ventana Moun- 
tain — View — Argentino — Commandant — Major — Situa- 
tion — Toriano — Indians — Fossils — Animals — Fish — Cli- 
mate — Pumice — Ashes — Conway — ^Deliberations — Conse- 
quent Decision — ResponsibHity incurred — Paz — Liebre — 
Gale — Hunger — Fossils at Hermoso — Fossils at Point 
Alta — Express sent to Buenos Ayres — Suspicions and 
absurd alarm — Rodriguez 97 


Beagle sails with Paz and Liebre — Part company — Beagle 
visits Buenos Ayres — Nautical remarks on the Plata — Sail 
from Monte Video for San Bias — Lieut. Wickham and ten- 
ders—Butterflies—Sail for Tierra del Fuego— White 
water — Icebergs —Rocks — Cape San Sebastian — Oens 
men — Cape San Diego — Good Success Bay — Natives — 
Guanacoes — Cape Horn — St. Martin Cove — Gales — 
Heavy Seas — Nassau Bay — Goree Road — Prepare to land 
Matthews and the Fuesrians 114 




Chart of Tierra del Fuego .. .. •• •• •• Loose. 

Chart of Chil6e .. .. -- .. •• •• •• Loose. 

Fuegian (Yapoo Tekeenica) .. .. .. .. Frontispiece. 

Panoramic View of Madeira .. .. .. to face page 46 

Crossing the Line .. .. .. .. •- •- .• 57 

San Salvador, Bahia .. .. .. .. •• .. fi2 

Patagonians at Gregory Bay . . . . . . . . . . 136 

Fuegians — Yacana, Pecheray, &c. .. .. •• .. 141 

Fuegians going to trade in Zapallos with the Patagonians .. 171 

Woollya 208 

Berkeley Sound — Falkland Islands .. .. .. .. 248 

Bivouac at the Head of Port Desire Inlet . . . . . . 316 

Button Island, near Woollya .. .. .. •• .. 323 

Fuegians — York Minster, &c. . - . . • . . . • . 324 

Cove in Beagle Channel, &c. .- .. .. .. .. 326 

Beagle laid ashore in Santa Cruz . . . . • . . . • . 336 

Santa Cruz — Plan of Port and River . . . . . . . . 339 

Basalt Glen — River Santa Cruz . . . . . . . . • . 348 

Santa Cruz River — distant view of Andes . . • . • . 351 

Mystery Plain, near the Santa Cruz .. .. .. .. 352 

Mount Sarmiento, from Warp Bay . . . . . . . • 359 

Valdivia . .. .. ... .. .. .. •• 398 

Remains of the Cathedral at Concepcion .. .. .. 405 

Albemarle Island, &c. . . . . . - . . . . ■ . 498 

Otaheite, or Tahiti . . . . . . . . . . . . 509 

Otaheite, Eimeo, Matavai, Chapel . . . . . , . . 517 

New Zealanders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 568 

Note. — The loose Plates are to be folded into pockets in the covers of 

the volumes. 




Soundings — Anchor in Santa Cruz — Lay Beagle ashore for 
repair — Prepare to ascend river — Set out — View of sur- 
rounding country — Rapid stream — Cold — Ostriches — 
Guanacoes — Indians — Fish — CliiFs — Firewood — Lava 
Cliffs — Difficulties — Chalia — See Andes — Farthest 
West — View rovuid — Return — Danger — Guanaco hunters 
— Puma — Cat — ^Tides — Sail from Santa Cruz 336 


Beagle and Adventure sail from Port Famine through Mag- 
dalen and Cockburn Channel — Enter Pacific — Death of 
Mr. Rowlett — Chil6e — Chile — Government — Adventure 
sold — Consequent changes — Plans — Mr. Low — Chonos 
— Lieut. Sulivan's party — Moraleda — LadrUleros — De 
Vea — Sharp — San Andres — ^VaUenar — Mr. Stokes — San 
Estevan — Distressed sailors — Anna Pink Bay — Port Low 
— Potatoes — Indian names — Huaf o — Volcano — Chilotes 
— Aborigines — Militia — Freebooters — Climate — Docks 
— Tides — Witchcraft — Alerse — Calbucanos — Cesares 
— Search for men — Meteors 359 


Leave Chiloe — ^Valdivia — Earthquake — Aborigines — Tradi- 
tions — Words — Convicts — Tolten — Boroa — Imperial — 
Mocha — Shocks of Earthquake — Anchor off Talcahuano 
— Ruins — Account of a great Earthquake, which destroyed 
the cityof Concepcion; and was felt from Chiloe toCopi- 
apo ; from Juan Femandes to Mendoza 396 


Mocha — Movement of Land — Penco — UUoa — Shells — Coal 
— Maule — Topocalma — Aconcagua — Valparaiso — Horcon 
— Papudo — Pichidanque — Conchali — Herradura — Co- 



quimbo — ^Wreck — Challenger — Blonde — Ride — Estate — 
Colcura — ViUagran — Arauco — Former caciques — Coloco- 
lo — Caupolican — Scenery — Quiapo — Night traveUing — 
Leiibu — Tucapel — Valdivia — Lautaro — Challenger 419 


Challenger sails — Sounds off Mocha — Wrecked on the main- 
land — Crew saved — Stores landed — Camp formed — Great 
exertions, and excellent conduct — Mr. Consul Rouse — 
Leiibu — Plague of mice — Curious rats — Return to Blonde 
— Ulpu — Araucanian dress — Arauco — 'Boroanos ' — Tubul 
— ^Bar rivers — Apples — Ferry — Blonde sails — Seek for the 
Leiibu — Schooner Carmen — Errors and delay — Embark 
Challenger's crew — Rescue the Carmen — Talcahuano — 
New Concepcion — Valparaiso — Coquimbo — Challenger's 
sail in Conway — Reflections 451 


Andes — Aconcagua — Villarica — I slay — Powder — CaUao — 
Rejoin Beagle — Constitucion — Plans — Wilson — Carrasco 
— ' Galapagos ' — Iguanas — Lava Rocks — Land-tortoises — 
Craters — Turtle — Shells — Dye — Volcanoes — Settlement 
— Albemarle Island — Cyclopian Scene — Tagus Cove — 
Tide Ripples — Settlers — Climate — Salt — Dampier — Birds 
— Transportation of Tortoises — Currents — Temperature 
of Water 481 


Dangerous Archipelago of the Low Islands — Krusenstern 
— Squalls — Discoveries — Otaheite — Matavai — Natives — 
Houses — Point Venus — Theft — Singing — Pomare — Sugar 
— Papiete — Church — Mr. Pritchard — ^Thierry — Shells — 
Mr. Nott — Bible — Paamuto Natives — Falkner — 'Ua' — 
Papawa — Relics — Divine Service — Hitote — Henry — Au- 
dience — Queen — Missionaries — Roman Catholics — Form- 



ing head — Meeting at Papiete — Dress — Behaviour — Elo- 
quence of natives — Honourable feelings — Interesting dis- 
cussion — Venilia 506 


Continuation of the Meeting at Papiete — Questions — Expla- 
nation — Meeting ends — Pilotage — Mr. Wilson — Queen's 
Visit — Fireworks — School — Intelligence — Letters — Inha- 
bitants — Dress — Conduct — Abolition of Spirits — Defect 
in Character — Domestic Scene — Aura Island — Newton at 
Bow Island — Pearl Oyster Shells — Divers — Steering — 
Queen's Letter — Collection — Sail from Otaheite — Why- 
lootacke — Flight of Birds — Navigators — Friendly — Fee- 
jee Islands — English Chief — Precautions — LaPerouse 540 


New Zealand — Bay of Islands — Kororareka — Fences — Flag 
— Paihia — Natives — Features — Tattow — Population — 
Colour — Manner — War-Canoes — Prospects — Mackintosh 
— Fern — Church — Resident — Vines — Villages — Houses 
— Planks — Cooking — Church — Marae — First Mission — 
Settlers — Pomare — Marion — Cawa-Cawa — Meeting — 
Chiefs — Rats — Spirits — Wine — Nets — Burial — Divine 
Service — Singing — Causes of Disturbances — Reflections 
and Suggestions — Polynesian Interests — Resources for 
Ships in the Pacific 564 


Waimate — Cultivation — Flax — Apteryx — Gardens — Mis - 
sionaries — Farm — Barn — Mill — Grave of Shunghi — 
Horses — Kauri Pine — Keri-keri — Children — Waripoaka 
— La Favorite — Political condition — Relics — Images, or 
Amulets — Mats — Leave New Zealand — Remarks — Inter- 
course — Convicts — Effects of Missionary exertion — Irre- 
gular Settlements — Trade — Residents and Consuls — 



Missionary Embarrassments — Society's Lands — Discon- 
tent of Settlers — Purchase of Land — Influence of Mission- 
aries — Their sphere of action 598 


North Cape of New Zealand — Superstitions — Cook's great 
Lizard — Traditions — Currents — Thermometer — Sydney 
— Dr . Darwin — Drought — Aqueduct — Position — Disad- 
vantages — Ill-acquired wealth of Convicts, or Emancip- 
ists — Hobart Town — Advantages of Van Diemen's Land 
King George Soimd — Natives — Dance — Keeling Islands 
— ^Tides — Soundings — Coral formations — Malays — Fish 
— Weather — Mauritius — Cape of Good Hope — St. Helena 
— Ascension — Bahia — Pemambuco — Cape Verde Islands 
— Azores — Arrive in England 619 


Remarks on the early migrations of the human race 640 

A very few Remarks vdth reference to the Deluge 657 




Southern Aborigines of South America 129 


Horse Indians of Patagonia: — Head — Physiognomy — Sta- 
ture — ^Wanderings — Clothing — Armour — Arms — Food — 
Chase — Property — Huts — Wizards — Marriage — Children 
— Health — lUness — Death — Burial — ^War — Horseman- 
ship — Gambling — Caciques — Superstitions — Warfare — 
Morality — Disposition — Chups — ^ZapaUos 144 


Fuegians — Form — Paint — Disposition — Food — Doctor — 
Rehgious ideas — Superstitions — Marriage — Death — ^Bu- 
rial — Cannibalism — Weapons — Women's occupation — 
Training — Obtaining food — Fire — Language — Sagacity 
and local knowledge — Battles — Ceremony — Natives in 
Trinidad Gulf — Obstruction Sound — Potatoes — Dogs 175 


Set out to land Matthews and the Fuegians — Their meeting 
with Natives — Supposed Volcano — Dream — Oens-men — 
Scene — Arrival at WooUya — Encampment — Concourse of 
Natives — Jemmy's Family — Wigwams — Gardens — Dis- 
trust — Experiment — Westward Exploration — Remove 
Matthews — Revisit WooUya — Gale — Sail for the Falk- 
land Islands 202 

Historical Sketch of the Falkland Islands 228 


First Appearance of Falklands — Tides — Currents — Winds — 
Seasons — ^Temi)erature — Rain — Health — Dangers — Cau- 



tions — View — Settlement — Animals — Foxes — Varieties 
— Seal — Whales — Fish and Fishery — Birds — Brushwood 
— Peat — Pasture — Potash — Orchilla — Grazing — Com 
— Fruit — Vegetables — Trees — Plants — Land — Situation 
of principal Settlement — Prospective advantages — Sugges- 
tions — Vemet's Establishment — Reflections 24 1 


Anchor in Berkeley Sound — Le Magellan — British flag hoisted 
— Ruined Settlement — Mr. Hellyer drowned — Burial — 
French Whalers — Unicom — Adventure — SquaU — Flashes 
—Fossils— Killing Wild Cattle— Sail from Falklands— 
River Negro — Maldonado — Constitucion — Heave down, 
copper, and refit Adventure — Signs of weather — Sound 
banks — Los Cesares — Settle with Harris, and part com- 
pany — Blanco Bay — Return to Maldonado — Monte Video 269 


Paz and Liebre begin work — Chronometers — Fish — Animals 
— San Bias — ^Wrecks — River Negro — Del Carmen — Inha- 
bitants — Indians — Trade — Wilhams drowned — Port De- 
sire — Gale — Salinas — Lightning — Bones in Tomb — ^Trees 
— Dangers — New Bay — Cattle — Seal — Soil — River Chu- 
pat— Drift Timber — Fertility — ^Wild Cattle— Valdes Creek 
— Imminent danger — Tide Races — Bar of the Negro — 
Hunting — ^Attack of Indians — VUlarino — Falkner 295 


Beagle and Adventure sail from Monte Video — Port Desire 
— Bellaco Rock — Refraction — Port San Julian — Viedma — 
Drake — Magalhaens — Patagonians — Port Famine — San 
Sebastian Bay — Woollya — Jemmy — Story — Treachery 
— Oens men — Improvement — Gratitude — Falklands — 
Events — Capt. Seymour — Search for Murderers — Lieut. 
Smith — Brisbane — Wreck — Sufferings — Lieutenant CHve 
— Sail from Falklands 316 







Explanation — Natives of Tierra del Fuego, or Fuegians — Passages across 
the Equator (Atlantic)— Letters— Small-pox — Hospital — Boat Me- 
mory — Fuegians in London — At Waltharastow — At St. James's — 
Beagle recommissioned— Correspondence with Mr. Wilson — Fuegians 

As the following narrative of the Beagle's second voyage to 
South America is a sequel to the " Surveying Voyages of the 
Adventure and the Beagle," which are related in the preceding 
volume, it may be advisable that this chapter should contain 
a sketch of some few incidents intimately connected with the 
origin and plan of the second Expedition. 

Captain King has already mentioned that the two ships 
under his orders sailed from Rio de Janeiro, on their home- 
ward passage, early in August 1830. 

During the time which elapsed before we reached England, 
I had time to see much of my Fuegian companions ; and daUy 
became more interested about them as I attained a further 
acquaintance with their abilities and natural inclinations. Far, 


2 FUEGIANS. 1830. 

very far indeed, were three of the number from deserving to 
be called savages — even at this early period of their residence 
among civilized people — though the other, named York 
Minster, was certainly a displeasing specimen of uncivilized 
human nature. 

The acts of cannibalism occasionally committed by their 
countrymen, were explained to me in such terms, and with such 
signs, that I could not possibly misunderstand them ; and a still 
more revolting account was given, though in a less explicit 
manner, respecting the horrible fate of the eldest women of 
their own tribes, when there is an unusual scarcity of food. 

This half-understood story I did not then notice much, for 
I could not believe it ; but as, since that time, a familiarity 
with our language has enabled the Fuegians to tell other per- 
sons, as well as myself, of this strange and diabolical atrocity ; 
and as Mr. Low (of whom mention will often be made in the 
following pages) was satisfied of the fact, from the concurrent 
testimony of other Fuegians who had, at different times, passed 
months on board his vessel, I no longer hesitate to state my 
firm belief in the most debasing trait of their character which 
Avill be found in these pages. 

At the sea-ports which the Beagle visited in her way from 
Tierra del Fuego to England, animals, ships, and boats seemed 
to engage the notice of our copper-coloured friends far more 
than human beings or houses. When any thing excited their 
attention particularly, they would appear, at the time, almost 
stupid and unobservant ; but that they were not so in reality 
was shown by their eager chattering to one another at the very 
first subsequent opportunity, and by the sensible remarks 
made by them a long time afterwards, when we fancied they 
had altogether forgotten unimportant occurrences which took 
place during the first few months of their sojourn among us. 

A large ox, with unusually long horns, excited their won- 
der remarkably ; but in no instance was outward emotion 
noticed, to any great degree, excepting when they saw a steam- 
vessel going into Falmouth Harbour. What extraordinary 
monster it M'as, they could not imagine. Whether it was a 


huge fish, a land animal, or the devil (of whom they have a 
notion in their country), they could not decide ; neither could 
they understand the attempted explanations of our sailor?, 
who tried to make them comprehend its nature : but, indeed, 
I think that no one who remembers standing, for the first time, 
near a railway, and witnessing the rapid approach of a steam- 
engine, with its attached train of carriages, as it dashed along, 
smoking and snorting, will be surprised at the effect which a 
large steam-ship, passing at full speed near the Beagle, in a 
dark night, must have had on these ignorant, though rather 
intelligent barbarians. 

Before relating occurrences subsequent to our arrival in 
England, I must ask permission to make the first of a few 
nautical remarks that will be found in this volume, some of 
which, I hope, may be useful to young sailors. 

Our passage across the Atlantic, from Rio de Janeiro to 
Falmouth, was unusually long. In order to sail within sight 
of the Cape Verd Islands, for a particular purpose, we steered 
eastward from the coast of Brazil, and crossed the equator far 
east. This course, unavoidable in our case, carried us into that 
tract of ocean, between the trade-winds, which in August and 
September is subject to westerly winds — sometimes extremely 
strong — and we encountered a very heavy gale, although so 
near the equator. Afterwards, when close to our own shores, we 
were unfortunate enough to be delayed by what seamen call a 
hard-hearted easterly wind ; and not until the middle of October 
were we moored in a British port. 

As a remarkable contrast, a Falmouth packet, which sailed 
from Rio de Janeiro some time after our departure, steered 
northward, as soon as she had cleared the coast of Brazil, 
crossed the line far to the west, and arrived in England a fort- 
night before us. 

My own humble opinion, with respect to crossing the equa- 
tor, is, that an outward-bound ship ought to cross near twenty- 
five— and that one homeward-bound may go even beyond 
thirty degrees of west longitude — but should not attempt to 
pass eastward of twenty-five. Ships crossing the line between 

B 2 


twenty-five and thirty degrees west, are, I believe, far less 
subject to detention— taking the year through— than those 
which adopt easterly courses. 

Cape St. Roque, St. Paul Rocks, Fernando Noronha, and 
the Roccas, ought not to be thought of too lightly ; but in 
avoiding them, and the lee current near St. Roque, many ships 
have encountered the tedious calms, extremely hot weather, 
frequent torrents of rain, and violent squalls, which are more 
or less prevalent between the longitudes of twenty and ten 
degrees west. 

To return to the Fuegians. While on our passage home 
I addressed the following letter to my commanding officer and 
kind friend, Captain King. 

« Sir, Beagle, at sea, Sept. 12, 1830. 

" I have the honour of reporting to you that there are now 
on board of his Majesty's sloop, under my command, four 
natives of Tierra del Fuego. 


" Their names and estimated ages are, 

York Minster 26 

Boat Memory 20 

James Button 14 

Fuegia Basket (a girl) 9 

" I have maintained them entirely at my own expense, and 
hold myself responsible for their comfort while away from, 
and for their safe return to their own country : and I have 
now to request that, as senior officer of the Expedition, you 
will consider of the possibility of some public advantage being 
derived from this circumstance ; and of the propriety of offer- 
ing them, with that view, to his Majesty's Government. 

" If you think it proper to make the offer, I will keep them 
in readiness to be removed according to your directions. 

" I am now to account for my having these Fuegians on 
board, and to explain my future views with respect to them. 

" In February last, the Beagle being moored in ' Towns- 
hend Harboui-,' on the south-west coast of Tierra del Fuego, 
I sent Mr. Matthew Murray (master), with six men, in a 
whale-boat, to Cape Desolation ; the projecting part of a small. 


but high and rugged island, detached from the main land, and 
twelve miles distant from Townshend Harbour. 

" Mr. Murray reached the place, and secured his party and 
the boat in a cove near the cape : but during a very dark 
night, some Fuegians, whose vicinity was not at all suspected, 
approached with the dexterous cunning peculiar to savages 
and stole the boat. 

" Thus deprived of the means of returning to the Beagle, 
and unable to make their situation known, Mr. Murray and his 
party formed a sort of canoe, or rather basket, with the 
branches of trees and part of their canvas tent, and in this 
machine three men made tlieir way back to the Beagle, by his 
directions : yet, although favoured by the only fine day that 
occurred during the three weeks which the Beagle passed in 
Townshend Harbour, this basket was twenty hours on its 

" Assistance was immediately given to the master and the 
other men, and a chase for our lost boat was begun, which 
lasted many days, but was unsuccessful in its object, although 
much of the lost boat's gear was found, and the women and 
children of the families from whom it was recovered, were 
brought on board as hostages. The men, excepting one of 
them, escaped from us, or were absent in our missing boat. 

" At the end of February the Beagle anchored in Christmas 
Sound ; but before this time all our prisoners had escaped, ex- 
cept three little girls, two of whom we restored to their own tribe, 
near ' Whale-boat Sound,' and the other is now on board. 

" From the first canoe seen in Christmas Sound, one man 
was taken as a hostage for the recovery of our boat, and to 
become an interpreter and guide. He came to us with little 
reluctance, and appeared unconcerned. 

" A few days afterwards, traces of our boat were found at 
some wigwams on an island in Christmas Sound, and from the 
families inhabiting those wigwams I took another young man, 
for the same purpose as that above-mentioned. No useful 
information respecting our lost boat was, however, gained from 
them, before we were obliged to leave that coast, and she 
remained the prize of their companions. 


" Afterwards, when in Nassau Bay, our captives informed 
us that the natives of that part of the coast, and all to the 
eastward, were their enemies, and that they spoke a different 
language. This intelligence was extremely disappointing, and 
made me anxious to persuade one of this eastern tribe to come 
on board and stay with us ; but I had then no hopes of doing 
so, and gave up tlie idea : however, some time afterwards, 
accidentally meeting three canoes, when away in my boat ex- 
ploring the Beagle Channel, I prevailed on their occupants to 
put one of the party,, a stout boy, into my boat, and in return 
I gave them beads, buttons, and other trifles. Whether they 
intended that he should remain with us permanently, I do not 
know ; but they seemed contented with the singular bargain, 
and paddled again towards the cove from which they had 
approached my boat. We pulled on along shore, attended by 
other canoes, which had been endeavouring to barter with us 
whenever we stopped ; but at dusk they ceased following, us 
and went ashore. 

" When about to depart from the Fuegian coast, I decided 
to keep these four natives on board, for they appeared to be 
quite cheerful and contented with their situation ; and I thought 
that many good effects might be the consequence of their living 
a short time in England. They have lived, and have been 
clothed like the seamen, and are now, and have been always, 
in excellent health and very happy. They understand why 
they were taken, and look forward with pleasure to seeing our 
country, as well as to returning to their own. 

" Should not his Majesty's Government direct otherwise, I 
shall procure for these people a suitable education, and, after 
two or three years, shall send or take them back to their coun- 
try, with as large a stock as I can collect of those articles most 
useful to them, and most likely to improve the condition of 
their countrymen, who are now scarcely superior to the brute 

" I have, &c. 

" Phillip Parker King, Esq. Robert Fitz-Roy, 

Conmiander H.M.S. Adventure, Commander." 

Senior officer of the Expedition." 

1830. FUEGIANS. 7 

This letter was forwarded to the Adniirahy by Captain 
King, as soon as he arrived in England ; and a few days after- 
wards the following answer was received. 

« Sir, Admiralty Office, 19th Oct. 1830. 

" Having laid before my Lords Commissioners of the Admi- 
ralty your letter and its enclosure from Conunander Fitz-Roy, 
of the Beagle, relative to the four Indians whom he has 
brought from Tierra del Fuego under the circumstances 
therein stated ; I am commanded to acquaint you that their 
Lordships will not interfere with Commander Fitz-Roy "'s per- 
sonal superintendence of, or benevolent intentions towards 
these four people, but they will afford him any facilities 
towards maintaining and educating them in England, and will 
give them a passage home again. 

" I am, &c. 
" To Commander King, (Signed) John Barrow."" 

H.M.S.V. Adventure." 

I was, of course, anxious to protect the Fuegians, as far as 
possible, from the contagion of any of those disorders, some- 
times prevalent, and which unhappily have so often proved 
fatal to the aboriginal natives of distant countries when brought 
to Europe ; and, immediately after our arrival in England, 
they landed with me, after dark, and were taken to comfort- 
able, airy lodgings, where, next day, they were vaccinated, for 
the second time. 

Two days afterwards they were carried a few miles into 
the country, to a quiet farm-house, where I hoped they would 
enjoy more freedom and fresh air, and, at the same time, 
incur less risk of contagion than in a populous sea-port town, 
where curiosity would be excited. 

Meanwhile, the Beagle was stripped and cleared out ; and 
the Adventure went to Woolwich for a similar purpose, prepa- 
ratory to being paid off. On the 27th of October, the Beagle's 
pendant was hauled down ; and on the 15th of November, the 
Adventure was put out of commission. 


Both vessels' crews were dispersed, as usual, unfortunately ; 
and of those who had passed so many rough hours together, 
but few were likely to meet again. I much regretted the sepa- 
ration from my tried and esteemed shipmates, and from our 
excellent little vessel. 

Soon afterwards, Captain King and Lieutenant Skyring 
were promoted : a gratifying proof of the good opinion of their 
exei-tions and conduct, which was entertained by the Lords 
Commissioners of the Admiralty. 

Early in November I received the sad intelligence that the 
young man, called Boat Memory, was taken ill ; and that the 
symptoms of his disorder were like those of the small-pox. 
Dr. Armstrong, of the Royal Hospital at Plymouth, whose 
advice I solicited, suggested that he and the other three Fue- 
gians should be received immediately into the hospital, with 
the view of preventing further infection, and ensuring the best 
treatment for the poor sufferer. Dr. Armstrong applied to 
the physician. Dr. Dickson (now Sir David Dickson), as well 
as Sir James Gordon, the superintendent, and by their advice 
and permission the Fuegians were removed into the hospital 
without delay ; and an application was made to the Admiralty, 
of which the following is a copy. 

" Sir, " Devonport, 7th Nov. 1830. 

" I have the honour of addressing you to request that the 
four Fuegians, whom I brought to England in the Beagle, 
may be received into the Royal Naval Hospital. 

" The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have stated 
in a letter to Commander King, dated 19th Oct. 1830, that 
' their Lordships will not interfere with Commander Fitz-Roy's 
personal superintendance of, or benevolent intentions towards 
these four people, but they will afford him any assistance in 
maintaining and educating them in England, and will give 
them a passage home again.' 

" In consequence of this assurance, I now beg that you will 
draw their Lordships' attention to the circumstance of an erup- 
tion having broken out upon one of the Fuegian men, since he 


was vaccinated, which is supposed, by the medical officers of 
the hospital, to be the small-pox. 

" As the other three individuals have been always in com- 
pany with him, it is to be feared that they also are affected ; 
and as the vaccination has not yet taken a proper effect, it is 
the opinion of the medical officers that it would be safer to 
receive them into the hospital, until the present critical period 
is passed, than to allow them to remain in private care. 

" I have further to request, that my late coxswain, James 

Bennett, may be permitted to accompany, and remain with the 

Fuegians, in order to attend upon them, in the event of their 

Lordships allowing them to be admitted into the hospital ; and 

I hope, Sir, that the peculiar nature of the case may be thought 

to justify this application. 

" I have, &c. 

" The Secretary Robert Fitz-Roy, Commander."" 

of the Admiralty. 

" Sir, Admiralty-Office, 10th Nov. 1830. 

" I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the 
Admiralty to acquaint you, in answer to your letter of this 
day's date, that directions have been given for the admission of 
the four Fuegians therein alluded to, into the Naval Hospital 
at Plymouth, and that James Bennett be allowed to attend 
them, agreeably with your request. 

" I am, Sir, &c. 
" Commander Fitz-Roy. (Signed) " John Barrow." 

The Admiralty having thus sanctioned the admission of the 
Fuegians into one of the best hospitals, and assured that 
they could not be under better treatment than that of the 
well-known gentlemen whom I have mentioned, I felt less 
anxiety in leaving them for a time, as I was obliged to do, in 
order to attend to duties connected with the survey ; but I 
had hardly reached London, when a letter from Dr. Dickson 
informed me of the untimely fate of Boat Memory. He had 
been vaccinated four different times ; but the three first opera- 

10 BOAT MEMORY. 1830. 

tions had failed, and the last had just taken effect, when the 
disease showed itself. It was thought that the fatal contagion 
must have attacked him previously. 

This poor fellow was a very great favourite with all who 
knew him, as well as with myself. He had a good disposition, 
very good abilities, and though born a savage, had a pleas- 
ing, intelligent appearance. He was quite an exception to 
the general character of the Fuegians, having good features 
and a well-proportioned frame. It may readily be supposed 
that this was a severe blow to me, for I was deeply sensible of 
the responsibility which had been incurred ; and, however un- 
intentionally, could not but feel how much I was implicated in 
shortenincf his existence. Neither of the others were attacked, 
the last vaccination having taken full effect ; but they were 
allowed to remain in the hospital for some time longer, until I 
could make satisfactory arrangements for them. While they 
were under Dr. Dickson's care, in the hospital, his own chil- 
dren had the measles ; and thinking that it would be a good 
opportunity to carry the little Fuegian girl through that ill- 
ness, he prepared her for it, and then took her into his house, 
among his own children ; where she had a very favourable 
attack, and recovered thoroughly. 

Of course, I was anxious that no time should be lost in 
arranging a plan for their education and maintenance ; and 
deeming the Church Missionary Society to be in some measure 
interested about the project I had in view, I applied to their 
secretary, through whose kindness I became acquainted with 
the Rev. Joseph Wigram ; to whom I am under great obliga- 
tions for the friendly interest taken at that time in my wishes 
with respect to the Fuegians, and for introducing them and my- 
self to the notice of the Rev. William Wilson, of Walthamstow. 
Mr. Wilson at once relieved my mind from a load of uncer- 
tainty and anxiety, by saying that they should be received 
into his parish, and that he would talk to the master of the 
Infant School about taking them into his house, as boarders 
and pupils. In a short time, it was arranged that the school- 


master should receive, and take entire charge of them, while 
they remained in England, and should be paid by me for their 
board and lodging, for his own trouble, and for all contingent 

Mr. Wilson proposed to keep a watchful eye over them 
himself, and give advice from time to time to their guardian 
and instructor. Mr. Wigram also lived at Walthamstow, and 
as he would have frequent opportunities of offering a useful 
caution, in case that the numerous calls upon Mr. Wilson's 
attention should at any time render additional thoughts forthe 
Fuegians an unfair or unpleasant trouble to him — I did 
indeed think that no plan could be devised offering a better 
prospect ; and immediately made arrangements for conveying 
them to London. 

The inside of a stage-coach was taken, and under the 
guidance of Mr. Murray (the Beagle's late master), attended 
by James Bennett, they arrived in Piccadilly, and were imme- 
diately carried to Walthamstow, without attracting any notice. 
Mr. Murray told me that they seemed to enjoy their journey 
in the coach, and were very much struck by the repeated 
changing of horses. 

I took them myself from the coach-office to Walthamstow ; 
they were glad to see me, but seemed bewildered by the mul- 
titude of new objects. Passing Charing Cross, there was a 
start and exclamation of astonishment from York. ' Look ! ' 
he said, fixing his eyes on the lion upon Northumberland 
House, which he certainly thought alive, and walking there. 
I never saw him show such sudden emotion at any other time. 
They were much pleased with the rooms prepared for them 
at Walthamstow ; and the schoolmaster and his wife were 
equally pleased to find the future inmates of their house very 
well disposed, quiet, and cleanly people ; instead of fierce and 
dirty savages. 

At Walthamstow they remained from December 1830 till 
October 1&31 ; and during all that time were treated with the 
utmost kindness by the benevolent men whose names I have 
mentioned ; by their families, and by many others in the 


neighbourhood, as well as casual visitors, who became much 
interested in their welfare, and from time to time gave them 
several valuable presents. 

The attention of their instructor was directed to teaching 
them English, and the plainer truths of Christianity, as the 
first object ; and the use of common tools, a slight acquaint- 
ance with husbandry, gardening, and mechanism, as the 
second. Considerable progress was made by the boy and girl ; 
but the man was hard to teach, except mechanically. He took 
interest in smith's or carpenter's work, and paid attention to 
what he saw and heard about animals ; but he reluctantly 
assisted in garden work, and had a great dislike to learning to 
read. By degrees, a good many words of their own languages 
were collected (the boy's differed from that of the man and the 
girl), and some interesting information was acquired, respect- 
ing their own native habits and ideas. They gave no particu- 
lar trouble ; were very healthy ; and the two younger ones 
became great favourites wherever they were known. Sometimes 
I took them with me to see a friend or relation of my own, 
who was anxious to question them, and contribute something 
to the increasing stock of serviceable articles which I was 
collecting for their use, when they should return to Tierra del 
Fuego. My sister was a frequent benefactress ; and they often 
talked, both then and afterwards, of going to see ' Cappen 

During the summer of 1831, his late Majesty expressed to 
Colonel Wood a wish to see the Fuegians, and they were 
taken to St. James's. His Majesty asked a great deal about 
their country, as well as themselves ; and I hope I may be 
permitted to remark that, during an equal space of time, no 
person ever asked me so many sensible and thoroughly pertinent 
questions respecting the Fuegians and their country also 
relating to the survey in which I had myself been engaged, as 
did his Majesty. Her Majesty Queen Adelaide also honoured 
the Fuegians by her presence, and by acts of genuine kindness 
which they could appreciate, and never forgot. She left the 
room, in which they were, for a minute, and returned with one 

1831. AT ST. James's. 13 

of hei- own bonnets, which slie put upon the giiTs head. Her 
Majesty then put one of her rings upon the girPs finger, 
and gave her a sum of money to buy an outfit of clothes when 
she should leave England to i-eturn to her own country. 

I must now revert to matters more immediately connected 
with the Beagle's second voyage. 

My own official duties, relating to the survey, were com- 
pleted in March 1831 ; when my late commanding officer, 
Captain King, addressed a letter to the Lords Commissioners 
of the Admiralty expressive of his approbation of the part I 
had taken, under his direction, and recommending me to their 
Lordships. * 

From various conversations which I had with Captain King, 
during the earlier period of my service under him, I had been 
led to suppose that the survey of the southern coasts of South 
America would be continued ; and to some ship, ordered upon 
such a service, I had looked for an opportunity of restoring 
the Fueaians to their native land. 

Finding, however, to my great disappointment, that an 
entire change had taken place in the views of the Lords of 
the Admiralty, and that there was no intention to prosecute 
the survey, I naturally became anxious about the Fuegians ; 
and, in June, having no hopes of a man-of-war being sent to 
Tierra del Fuego, and feeling too much bound to these 
natives to trust them in any other kind of vessel, unless with 
myself — because of the risk that would attend their being 
landed anywhere, excepting on the territories of their own 
tribes — I made an agreementf with the owner of a small 
merchant-vessel, the John of London, to carry me and five 
other persons to such places in South America as I wished to 
visit, and eventually to land me at Valparaiso. 

My arrangements were all made, and James Bennett, who 
was to accompany me, had already purchased a number of 
goats, with Avhich I purposed stocking some of the islands of 
Tierra del Fuego — when a kind uncle, to whom I mentioned 


Appendix. t Ibid. 

14 LETTER MR. WIT,SOX. 1831. 

my plan, went to the Admiralty, and soon afterwards told me 
that I should be appointed to the command of the Chanticleer, 
to go to Tierra del Fuego. 

My agreement with the owner of the John was, however, 
in full force, and I could not alter it without paying a large 
proportion of the whole sum agreed on for the voyage. 

The Chanticleer was not, upon examination, found quite 
fit for service ; and, instead of her, I was again appointed to 
my well-tried little vessel, the Beagle. My commission was 
dated the 27th of June, and on the same day two of my most 
esteemed friends. Lieutenants Wickham and Sulivan, were 
also appointed. 

While the Beagle was fitting out at Devonport, I received 
the foUowins: letter from Mr. Wilson. 


" Sir, Walthamstow, 5th Aug. 1831. 

" I am informed that the Fuegians who have been lately 
resident in this place are shortly to return to their native 
country under your care. Will you permit me to ask whether, 
if two individuals should volunteer to accompany and remain 
with them, in order to attempt to teach them such useful arts as 
may be thought suited to their gradual civilization, you will 
give them a passage in the Beagle .'' and whether, upon your 
arrival on the coast of Tierra del Fuego, you will be able to 
give them some assistance in establishing a friendly intercourse 
with, and settlement amongst the natives of that country ? 
Would these individuals be required to pay you for their pas- 
sage, and maintenance on board ? or would his Majesty's 
Government allow them to be maintained on board at the 
public expense .'' Do you think that you would be able to visit 
them, after their first settlement, supposing so desirable an 
object should be attained, in order to give them some encou- 
ragement, and perhaps assistance ; or to remove them if they 
should find it impracticable to continue their residence among 
the natives ? 


" A subscription has been set on foot by gentlemen who are 
extremely desirous that this opportunity of extending the 
benefits of civilization should not be lost ; and, in consequence 
of their united wishes, I now take the liberty of asking these 

" I am, &c. 
(Signed) " William Wilson." 
" To Captain Fitz-Roy, R.N." 

After reading this communication, I wrote to the Secretary 
of the Admiralty, and enclosed a copy of Mr. Wilson s letter. 
The answer is subjoined. 

" Sir, Admiralty Office, 10th Aug. 1831. 

" Having laid before my Lords Commissioners of the Admi- 
ralty your letter of yesterday's date, with the letter which 
accompanied it, from the Rev. William Wilson, respecting the 
natives of Tierra del Fuego who were brought to England in 
his Majesty's ship Beagle ; I am commanded to acquaint you 
that their Lordships will give the necessary orders for the pas- 
sage of these individuals, and of the two persons who are to 
accompany them ; and that your request to be allowed to visit 
these people, after their arrival, will be taken into consideration 
in preparing your instructions. 

" I am, &c. 
(Signed) " John Barrow." 
" To Commander Fitz-Roy, 

" H.M.S. Beagle." 


In consequence of this reply, it was wished that two per- 
sons should accompany the Fuegians, and endeavour to pass 
some time in their country : but it was not easy to find in- 
dividuals sufficiently qualified, and in whom confidence could 
be placed, who would willingly undertake such an enter- 
prise. One young man was selected by Mr. Wilson, but a 
companion for him could not be found in time to embark on 
board the Beagle. 

In October the party from Walthamstow arrived, in a 


steam-vessel, at Plymouth, and not a few boats were required 
to transport to our ship the large cargo of clothes, tools, 
crockery-ware, books, and various things which the families 
at Walthamstow and other kind-hearted persons had given. 
In the small hold of the Beagle, it was not easy to find places 
for the stowage of so many extra stores ; and when dividing the 
contents of large chests, in order to pack them differently, 
some very fair jokes were enjoyed by the seamen, at the ex- 
pense of those who had ordered complete sets of crockery- 
ware, without desiring that any selection of articles should be 

Instructions were given, by the Secretary of the Church 
Missionai-y Society, to the young man who wished to accom- 
pany the Fuegians, which will be found in the Appendix ; 
and although he was rather too young, and less experienced 
than might have been wished, his character and conduct had 
been such as to give very fair grounds for anticipating that 
he would, at least, sincerely endeavour to do his utmost in 
a situation so difficult and trying as that for which he volun- 


Hydrographer's Opinion— Continuation of Survey— Chain of INIeridian 
Distances— Efficient Arrangements — Repair and raise Deck — Outfit — 
Boats— Lightning-Conductors— Rudder— Stove— Windlass— Chrono- 
meters — Mr. Darwin — Persons on board — Changes — List of those who 
returned — Supplies— Admiralty Instructions— Memorandum — Hydro- 
grapher's Memorandum. 

When it was decided that a small vessel shovdd be sent to 
Tierra del Fuego, the Hydrographer of the Admiralty was 
referred to for his opinion, as to what addition she might make 
to the yet incomplete surveys of that country, and other places 
which she might visit. 

Captain Beaufort embraced the opportunity of expressing 
his anxiety for the continuance of the South American Surveys, 
and mentioning such objects, attainable by the Beagle, as he 
thous-ht most desirable : and it was soon after intimated to me 
that the voyage might occupy several years. Desirous of add- 
ing as much as possible to a work in which I had a strong 
interest, and entertaining the hope that a chain of meridian dis- 
tances might be carried round the world if we returned to 
England across the Pacific, and by the Cape of Good Hope ; 
I resolved to spare neither expense nor trouble in making our 
little Expedition as complete, with respect to material and 
preparation, as my means and exertions would allow, when 
supported by the considerate and satisfactory arrangements of 
the Admiralty : which were carried into effect (at that time) 
by the Navy Board, the Victualling Board, and the Dock- 
yard officers at Devonport. 

The Beagle was commissioned on the 4th of July 1831, 
and was immediately taken into dock to be thoroughly exa- 
mined, and prepared for a long period of foreign service. As 
she required a new deck, and a good deal of repair about the 
upper works, I obtained permission to have the upper-deck 

VOL. II. c 


raised considerably,* which afterwards proved to be of the 
greatest advantage to her as a sea boat, besides adding so ma- 
terially to the comfort of all on board. While in dock, a sheath- 
ing of two-inch fir plank was nailed on the vessel's bottom, over 
which was a coating of felt, and then new copper. This sheath- 
ing added about fifteen tons to her displacement, and nearly 
seven to her actual measurement. Therefore, instead of 235 
tons, she might be considered about 242 tons burthen. The rud- 
der was fitted according to the plan of Captain Lihou : a patent 
windlass supplied the place of a capstan : one of Frazer"'s 
stoves, with an oven attached, was taken instead of a common 
' galley' fire-place ; and the lightning-conductors, invented by 
Mr. Harris, were fixed in all the masts, the bowsprit, and even 
in the flying jib-boom. The arrangements made in the fittings, 
both inside and outside, by the officers of the Dock-yard, left 
nothing to be desired. Our ropes, sails, and spars, were the 
best that could be procured ; and to complete our excellent 
outfit, six superior boats-j- (two of them private property) 
were built expressly for us, and so contrived and stowed that 
they could all be carried in any weather. 

Considering the limited disposable space in so very .small a 
ship, we contrived to carry more instruments and books than 
one would readily suppose could be stowed away in dry and 
secure places; and in a part of my own cabin twenty-two 
chronometers were carefully placed. 

Anxious that no opportunity of collecting useful informa- 
tion, during the voyage, should be lost ; I proposed to the 
Hydrographer that some well-educated and scientific person 
should be sought for who would willingly share such accom- 
modations as I had to offer, in order to profit by the oppor- 
tunity of visiting distant countries yet little known. Captain 
Beaufort approved of the suggestion, and wrote to Professor 
Peacock, of Cambridge, who consulted with a friend, Pro- 
fessor Henslow, and he named Mr. Charles Darwin, grandson 
of Dr. Darwin the poet, as a young man of promising ability, 

• Eight inches abaft and twelve forward. 
+ Besides a dinghy carried astern. 


extremely fond of geology, and indeed all branches of natural 
history. In consequence an offer was made to Mr. Darwin to 
be my guest on board, which he accepted conditionally ; per- 
mission was obtained for his embarkation, and an order given 
by the Admiralty that he should be borne on the ship's books 
for provisions. The conditions asked by Mr. Dai win were, that 
he should be at liberty to leave the Beagle and retire from the 
Expedition when he thought proper, and that he should pay a 
fair share of the expenses of my table. 

Knowing well that no one actively engaged in the surveying 
duties on which we were going to be employed, would have 
time — even if he had ability — to make much use of the pencil, 
I engaged an artist, Mr. Augustvis Earle, to go out in a private 
capacity ; though not without the sanction of the Admiralty, 
who authorized him also to be victualled. And in order to 
secure the constant, yet to a certain degree mechanical attend- 
ance required by a large number of chronometers, and to be 
enabled to repair our instruments and keep them in order, I en- 
gaged the services of Mr. George James Stebbing, eldest son of 
the mathematical instrument-maker at Portsmouth, as a private 

The established complement of officers and men (including 
marines and boys) was sixty-five : but, with the supernumera- 
ries I have mentioned, we had on board, when the Beagle 
sailed from England, seventy-four persons, namely : — 

Robert Fitz-Roy Commander and Surveyor. 

John Clements Wickham Lieutenant. 

Bartholomew James Sulivan Lieutenant. 

Edward Main Chaffers Master. 

Robert Mac-Cormick Sursreon . 

George Rowlett Purser. 

Alexander Derbishire Mate . 

Peter Benson Stewart Mate. 

John Lort Stokes Mate and Assistant Surveyor. 

Benjamin Bynoe Assistant Surgeon. 

Arthur Mellersh Midshipman . 

Philip Gidley King Midshipman . 

c 2 


Alexander Burns Usborne Master's Assistant. 

Charles Musters Volunteer 1 st Class. 

Jonathan May Carpenter. 

Edward H. Hellyer Clerk. 

Acting boatswain : sergeant of marines and seven privates : thirty- 
four seamen and six boys. 

On the List of supernumeraries were — 

Charles Darwin Naturalist. 

Augustus Earle Draughtsman. 

George James Stebbing Instrument Maker. 

Richard Matthews and three Fuegians : my own steward : and Mr. 
Darsvin's servant. 

Some changes occurred in the course of the five years' voy- 
age, which it may be well to mention in this place. 

In April 1832, Mr. Mac-Cormick and Mr. Derbishire 
returned to England. Mr. Bynoe was appointed to act as 
Surgeon. Mr. Mellersh received a Mate's warrant ; and Mr. 
Johnson joined the Beagle as Midshipman. In May Mr. 
Musters fell a victim to fever, caught in the harbour of Rio 
de Janeiro: — Mr. Forsyth took his place. 

Mr. Earle suffered so much from continual ill health, that 
he could not remain on board the Beagle after August 1832 ; 
but he lived at Monte Video several months previtjusly to his 
return to England. The disappointment caused by losing his 
services was diminished by meeting Mr Martens at Monte 
Video, and engaging him to embark with me as my draughts- 

In March 1833, Mr. Hellyer was drowned at the Falkland 
Islands, in attempting to get a bird he had shot. In September 
1833, Mr. Kent joined as Assistant Surgeon. In June 1834, 
Mr. Rowlett died, at sea, of a complaint under which he had 
laboured for years : and the vacancy caused by his lamented 
decease was filled by Mr. Dring. 

Mr. Martens left me, at Valparasio, in 1834 ; and Mr. 
King remained with his father, at Sydney, in Australia, in 
February 1836. After these changes, and at our return to 
England in October 1836, the list stood thus — 


Robert Fitz-Roy Captain and Surveyor. 

John Clements Wickham Lieutenant. 

Bartholomew James Sulivan Lieutenant- 
Edward Main ChafFers Master . 

Benjamin Bynoe Surgeon (Actmg.) 

John Edward Dring Purser (Acting.) 

Peter Benson Stewart Mate. 

John Lort Stokes Mate and Assistant Surveyor. 

Arthur Mellersh Mate. 

Charles Richardson Johnson Mate . 

William Kent Assistant Surgeon. 

Charles Forsyth Midshipman. 

Alexander Bums Usborne Master's Assistant. 

Thomas SorreU Boatswain (Acting.) 

Jonathan May Carpenter. 

And on the List of supernumeraries were Mr. Darwin : George 

J. Stebbing : my steward : and Mr. Darwin's servant. 
Our complement of seamen, marines, and boys was com- 
plete at our return, and generally during the voyage ; because, 
although many changes happened, we had always a choice 
of volunteers to fill vacant places. 

Many of the crew had sailed with me in the previous voy- 
age of the Beagle; and there were a few officers, as well as 
some marines and seamen, who had served in the Beagle, or 
Adventure, during the whole of the former voyage. These 
determined admirers of Tierra del Fuego were. Lieutenant 
Wickham, Mr. Bynoe, Mr. Stokes, Mr. Mellersh, and Mr. 
King; the boatswain, carpenter, and sergeant; four private 
marines, my coxswain, and some seamen. 

I must not omit to mention that among our provisions were 
various antiscorbutics — such as pickles, dried apples, and 
lemon juice — of the best quality, and in as great abvindance 
as we could stow away ; we had also on board a very large 
quantity of Kilner and Moorsom's preserved meat, vegetables, 
and soup : and from the Medical Department we received an 
ample supply of antiseptics, and articles useful for preserving 
specimens of natural history. 

Not only the heads of departments exerted themselves for 


the sake of our health and safety, but the officers subordinate 
to them appeared to take a personal interest in the Beagle ; for 
which I and those with me felt, and must always feel, most 

Perhaps no vessel ever quitted her own country with a 
better or more ample supply (in proportion to her probable 
necessities) of every kind of useful provision and stores than 
the little ship of whose wanderings I am now about to give a 
brief and very imperfect narrative ; and, therefore, if she 
succeeded in effecting any of the objects of her mission, with 
comparative ease and expedition, let the complete manner in 
which she was prepared for her voyage, by the Dock-yard at 
Devonport, be fully remembered. 

On the 15th of November I received my instructions from 
the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. 


By the Commissioners for executing; the office of Lord 
High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain 
and Ireland, &c. 

" You are hereby required and directed to put to sea, in the 
vessel you command, so soon as she shall be in every respect 
ready, and to proceed in her, with all convenient expedition, 
successively to Madeira or Teneriffe; the Cape de Verde 
Islands; Fernando Noronha; and the South American sta- 
tion ; to perform the operations, and execute the surveys, 
pointed out in the accompanying memorandum, which has 
been drawn up under our direction by the Hydrographer of 
tliis office ; observing and following, in the prosecution of the 
said surveys, and in your other operations, the directions and 
suggestions contained in the said memorandum. 

" You are to consider yourself under the command of Rear- 
Admiral Sir Thomas Baker, Commander-in-chief of his 
Majesty's ships on the South American station, whilst you are 
within the hmits of that station, in execution of the services 


above-mentioned ; and in addition to the directions conveyed to 
you in the memorandum, on the subject of your supplies of 
provisions, we have signified to the Rear- Admiral our desire 
that, whenever the occasion offers, you should receive from 
him and the officers of his squadron, any assistance, in stores 
and provisions, of which you may stand in need. 

" But during the whole time of your continuing on the 
above duties, you are (notwithstanding the 16th article of the 
4th section of the 6th chapter, page 78, of the General Printed 
Instructions) to send reports, by every opportunity, to our 
Secretary, of your proceedings, and of the progress you make. 
" Having completed the surveys which you are directed to 
execute on the South American station, you are to proceed to 
perform the several further operations set forth in the Hydro- 
grapher's memorandum, in the course therein pointed out; and 
having so done, you are to return, in the vessel you command, 
to Spithead, and report your arrival to our Secretary, for our 
information and further directions. 

" In the event of any unfortunate accident happening to 
yourself, the officer on whom the command of the Beagle 
may in consequence devolve, is hereby required and directed 
to complete, as far as in him lies, that part of the survey on 
which the vessel may be then engaged, but not to proceed to a 
new step in the voyage ; as, for instance, if at that time carry- 
ing on the coast survey on the western side of South America, 
he is not to cross the Pacific, but to return to England by 
Rio de Janeiro and the Atlantic. 

" Given under our hands, the 11th of November 1831. 
(Signed) " T. M. Hardy, 

" G. Barrington." 
" To Robert Fitz-Roy, Esq., 
Commander of his Majesty's surveying vessel 
' Beagle,' at Plymouth." 
« By command of their Lordships, 

(Signed) " Geo. Elliot." 


" Sir ; Admiralty Office, 11th November 1831, 

" With reference to the order which my Lords Commission- 
ers of the Admiralty have this day addressed to you, I am 
commanded by their lordships to transmit to you a memoran- 
dum, to be shown by you to any senior officer who may fall in 
with you, while you are employed on the duties pointed out in 
the above order. 

" I am, Sir, &c. 
(Signed) " Geo. Elliot." 
" To Commander Fitz-Roy, 
' Beagle' surveying vessel, Plymouth.'" 

" Admiralty Office, 11th November 1831. 
" Memorandum. 
" My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty having ordered 
Commander Fitz-Roy, of his Majesty's surveying vessel the 
' Beao-le,' to make surveys of various parts of the South Ame- 
rican station, it is their lordships' direction that no senior 
officer who may fall in with Commander Fitz-Roy, while he 
is employed in the above important duties, do divert him 
therefrom, or in any way interfere with him, or take from him, 
on any account, any of his instruments or chronometers. 

(Signed) " Geo. Elliot." 

" Memorandum. 
" A considerable difference still exists in the longitude of 
Rio de Janeiro, as determined by Captains King, Beechey, 
and Foster, on the one hand, and Captain W. F. Owen, Baron 
Roussin, and the Portuguese astronomers, on the other ; and 
as all our meridian distances in South America are measured 
from thence, it becomes a matter of importance to decide be- 
tween these conflicting authorities. Few vessels will have ever 
left this country with a better set of chronometers, both public 
and private, than the Beagle ; and if her voyage be made in 
short stages, in order to detect the changes which take place 
in all chronometers during a continuous increase of tempera- 
ture, it will probably enable us to reduce that difference within 
limits too small to be of much import in our future conclusions. 



« With this view, the run to Rio de Janeiro may be con- 
veniently divided into four parts : — 

" 1st. Touching at Madeira, the exact position of which 
has been admitted by all parties. Having obtained a four days' 
rate there, or, if the weather and the exposed anchorage will 
not permit, at TenerifFe, the Beagle should, 2diy, proceed with 
the least possible delay to Port Praya, in the Cape de Verde 
Islands, not only to establish a fresh four days' rate ; but that 
point being the pivot on which all Captain Owen's longitudes 
turn, no pains should be spared in verifying the position he 
has assumed for it. From thence, 3dly, she should make the 
best of her way across the Line to Fernando Noronha. This 
island, indeed, lies somewhat to the westward of her track, and 
may retard her progress a little ; yet a series of chronometric 
observations there is essential to the object in view, because it 
forms the third nearly equal division of the whole run, and 
because it was the point of junction of Commander Foster's 
double line of longitudes. If two or three days' delay at either 
of these two last stations will enable him to obtain satisfactory 
occultations, and moon culminating observations, which are 
likely to be seen in this country, the increased certainty of the 
results will well atone for that loss of time. The Commander 
will, of course, be careful to adopt, in all those stations, the 
precise spot of the former observations, with which his are to 
be compared. The Governor of Fernando Noronha was pecu- 
liarly obhging to Commander Foster, and gave up part of his 
own house for the pendulum experiments. There will be no 
occasion now for trespassing so heavily on his kindness ; but 
the difference of longitude between that station and Comman- 
der Fitz-Roy's must be well measured. 

" However desirable it may be that the Beagle should reach 
Rio de Janeiro as soon as possible, yet the great importance of 
knowing the true position of the Abrolhos Banks, and the 
certainty that they extend much further out than the limits 
assigned to them by Baron Roussin, will warrant the sacrifice 
of a few days, if other circumstances should enable her to 
beat down about the meridian of 36° AV. from the latitude of 


16° S. The deep sea-line should be kept in motion ; and if 
soundings be obtained, the bank should be pursued both ways, 
out to the edge, and in to that part already known. 

" Its actual extent to the eastward, and its connection with 
the shoals being thus ascertained, its further investigation may 
be left to more convenient opportunities. 

" At Rio de Janeiro, the time necessary for watering, &c. 
will, no doubt, be employed by the commander in every species 
of observation that can assist in deciding the longitude of Vil- 
lesagnon Island. 

" It is understood that a French Expedition is now engaged 
in the examination of the coast between St. Catherine's and 
the Rio de la Plata ; it would therefore be a waste of means 
to interfere with that interval ; and Commander Fitz-Roy 
should be directed to proceed to Monte Video, and to rate 
his chronometers in the same situation occupied by Captain 

" To the southward of the Rio de la Plata, the real work of 
the survey will begin. Of that great extent of coast which 
reaches from Cape St. Antonio to St. Geoi'ge's bay, we only 
know that it is inaccurately placed, and that it contains some 
large rivers, which rise at the other side of the continent, and 
some good harbours, which are undoubtedly worth a minute 
examination. Much of it, however, from the casual accounts 
of the Spaniards, seems to offer but little interest either to 
navigation or commerce, and will scarcely require more than 
to have its direction laid down correctly, and its prominent 
points fixed. It should nevertheless be borne in mind there, 
and in other places, that the more hopeless and forbidding any 
long line of coast may be, the more precious becomes the 
discovery of a port which affords safe anchorage and whole- 
some refreshments. 

" The portions of the coast which seem to require particu- 
lar examination are — 

" 1st. From Monte Hermoso to the Rio Colorado, including 
the large inlet of Bahia Blanco, of which there are three manu- 
scripts in this office that differ in every thing but in name. 


" Sdly. The gulf of Todos los Santos, Avhich is studded in 
the Spanish charts with innumerable islands and shoals. It is 
said to have an excellent harbour on its soutliern side, which 
should be verified ; but a minute survey of such an Archipela- 
go would be a useless consumption of time, and it will therefore 
be found sufficient to give the outer line of the dangers, and to 
connect that line with the regular soundings in the offing. 

" 3dly. The Rio Negro is stated to be a river of large 
capacity, with settlements fifty miles from its mouth, and 
ought to be partially reconnoitred as far as it is navigable. 

" 4thly. The gulf of San Matias should be examined, espe- 
cially its two harbours, San Antonio and San Jose, and a nar- 
row inlet on the eastern side of the peninsula, which, if easy 
of access, appears to be admirably situated : and — 

" 5thly. From the Bahia Nueva to Cape Blanco, including 
the Gulf of St. George, the coast is of various degrees of 
interest, and will accordingly require to have more or less 
time bestowed on its diflferent parts. The position of Cape 
Blanco should be determined, as there appears to be an error 
of some miles in its latitude, as well as much doubt about the 
places of two shoals which are marked near it in the Spanish 

" From Cape Blanco to the Strait of Magalhaens, the coast 
has been partially corrected by Captain King ; and Port 
Desire, having been carefully placed by him, will afford a good 
place for rating the chronometers, and an opportunity for ex- 
ploring the river. 

" Port San Julian, with its bar and wide river, should be 
surveyed, as well as any parts of that interval which were not 
visited in the last expedition. 

" The above are the principal points of research between 
the Rio de la Plata and the Strait. They have been conse- 
cutively mentioned in order to bring them into one point of 
view ; but that part of this service would perhaps be advan- 
tageously postponed till after the Beagle's first return from 
the southward ; and, generally speaking, it would be unwise 
to lay down here a specific route from which no deviation 


would be permitted. Where so many unforeseen circumstances 
may disturb the best-concerted arrangements, and where so 
much depends on climates and seasons with which we are not 
yet intimately acquainted, the most that can be safely done is 
to state the various objects of the voyage, and to rely on the 
Commander's known zeal and prudence to effect them in the 
most convenient order. 

" Applying this principle to what is yet to be done in the 
Strait, and in the intricate group of islands which forms the 
Tierra del Fuego, the following list will show our chief desi- 

" Captain King, in his directions, alludes to a reef of half a 
mile in length, off Cape Virgins, and in his chart he makes a 
seven fathoms' channel outside that reef; and still further out, 
five fathoms with overfalls. Sarmiento places fifty fathoms at 
ten miles E.S.E. from that Cape; thirteen fathoms at nineteen 
miles ; and, at twenty-one miles in the same direction, only 
four fathoms, besides a very extensive bank projecting from 
Tierra del Fuego, between which and the above shoals Malas- 
pina passed in thirteen fathoms. In short, there is conclusive 
evidence of there being more banks than one that obstruct the 
entrance to the Strait, and undoubtedly their thorough exami- 
nation ought to be one of the most important objects of the 
Expedition; inasmuch, as a safe approach to either straits or 
harbours is of more consequence to determine than the details 

'• None of the above authors describe the nature of these 
shoals, whether rock or sand ; it will be interesting to note 
with accuracy the slope, or regularity, of the depths, in their 
different faces, the quality of their various materials, and the 
disposition of the coarse or fine parts, as well as of what species 
of rock in the neighbourhood they seem to be the detritus ; 
for it is probable that the place of their deposition is connected 
with the very singular tides which seem to circulate in the 
eastern end of the Strait. 

" Beginning at Cape Orange, the whole north-eastern coast 
of Tierra del Fuego as far as Cape San Diego should be sur- 


veyed, including the outer edge of the extensive shoals that 
project from its northern extreme, and setting at rest the 
question of the Sebastian Channel. 

« On the southern side of this great collection of islands, 
the Beagle Channel and Whale-boat Sound should be finished, 
and any other places which the Commander's local knowledge 
may point out as being requisite to complete his former survey, 
and sufficiently interesting in themselves to warrant the time 
they will cost ; such as some apparently useful ports to the 
westward of Cape False, and the north side of Wakefield 
Channel, all of which are said to be frequented by the sealers. 
« In the north-western part it is possible that other breaks 
may be found interrupting the continuity of S**- Ines Island, 
and communicating from the Southern Ocean with the Strait ; 
these should be fully or cursorily examined, according to their 
appearance and promise ; and though it would be a very useless 
waste of time to pursue in detail the infinite number of bays, 
openings, and roads, that teem on the western side of that 
island, yet no good harbour should be omitted. It cannot 
be repeated too often that the more inhospitable the region, the 
more valuable is a known port of refuge. 

" In the western division of the Strait, from Cape Pillar 
to Cape Froward, there are a few openings which may perhaps 
be further explored, on the chance of their leading out to sea ; 
a few positions which may require to be reviewed ; and a few 
ports which were only slightly looked into dui'ing Captain 
Kino-'s laborious and excellent survey, and which may now be 
completed, if likely to augment the resources of ships occupied 
in those dreary regions. 

" In the eastern division of the Strait there is rather more 
work to be done, as the Fuegian shore from Admiralty Sound 
to Cape Orange has not been touched. Along with this part 
of the service, the Islands of Saints Martha and Magdalena, 
and the channel to the eastward of Elizabeth Island, will come 
in for examination ; and there is no part of the Strait which 
requires to be more accurately laid down and distinctly de- 
scribed, from the narrowness of the channels and the trans- 


verse direction of the tides. Sweepstakes Foreland may prove 
to be an Island ; if so, there may be found an useful outlet to 
the long lee-shore that extends from Cape Monmouth ; and if 
not, perhaps some safe ports might be discovered in that inter- 
val for vessels caught there in strong westerly gales. 

" It is not likely that, for the purposes of either war or 
commerce, a much more detailed account will be necessary of 
those two singular inland seas, Otway and Skyring Waters, 
unless they should be found to communicate with one of the 
sounds on the western coast, or with the western part of the 
Strait. The general opinion in the former Expedition was cer- 
tainly against such a communication, and the phenomena of the 
tides is also against it ; still the thing is possible, and it becomes 
an interesting geographical question, which a detached boat in 
fine weather will readily solve. 

" These several operations may probably be completed in 
the summer of 1833-34, including two trips to Monte Video 
for refreshments ; but before we finally quit the eastern coast 
of South America, it is necessary to advert to our present igno- 
rance of the Falkland Islands, however often they have been 
visited. The time that would be occupied by a rigorous survey 
of this group of islands would be very disproportionate to its 
value ; but as they are the frequent resort of whalers, and as 
it is of immense consequence to a vessel that has lost her masts, 
anchors, or a large part of her crew, to have a precise know- 
ledge of the port to which she is obliged to fly, it, would well 
deserve some sacrifice of time to have the most advantageous 
harbours and their approaches well laid down, and connected 
by a general sketch or running survey. Clear directions for 
recognizing and entering these ports should accompany these 
plans ; and as most contradictory statements have been made 
of the refreshments to be obtained at the east and west great 
islands, an authentic report on that subject by the Commander 
will be of real utility. 

" There is reason to believe that deep soundings may be 
traced from these islands to the main, and if regular they would 
be of great service in rectifying a ship's place. 


" Having now stated all that is most urgent to be done on 
this side of the South American Continent as well as in the 
circuit of Tierra del Fuego, the next step of the voyage will be 
Conception, or Valparaiso, to one of which places the Beagle 
will have to proceed for provisions, and where Captain King 
satisfactorily determined the meridian distances. 

" The interval of coast between Valparaiso and the western 
entrance of the Strait has been partly surveyed, as well as 
most of the deep and narrow channels formed by the islands of 
Hanover, Wellington, and Madre de Dios; but of the sea 
face of that great chain of islands which stretches from Queen 
Adelaide Archipelago to Campana Island, little has yet been 
done. It presents a most uninviting appearance, can probably 
afford but little benefit to the navigator, and the chief object 
in urging its partial examination, is to remove a blank from 
this great survey, which was undertaken by Great Britain from 
such disinterested motives, and which was executed by Cap- 
tains King and Fitz-Roy with so much skill and zeal. 

" The experience gained by the latter in that climate will 
enable him to accomplish all that is now required in much less 
time than it would have occupied in the beginning of the 
former expedition. 

" At the Gulf of Penas the last survey terminated. Of the 
peninsula de Tres Montes, and of the islands between that and 
Childe, a Spanish manuscript has been procured from Don 
Felipe Bauza, which may greatly abridge the examination of 
that interval. 

" From thence to Valdivia, Conception, and Valparaiso, the 
shore is straight, and nearly in the direction of the meridian, 
so that it will require no great expenditure of time to correct 
the outline, and to fix the positions of all the salient points. 
Mocha Island is supposed to be erroneously placed : and the 
depth, breadth, and safety of its channel are not known. 

" To the south of Valparaiso the port of Topocalmo and the 
large shoal in the offing on which an American ship was 
wrecked, require special examination ; and according to Captain 
Burgess, of the Alert, the coast and islands near Coquimbo 


are very imperfectly laid clown. Indeed of the whole of this 
coast, the only general knowledge we have is from the Spanish 
charts, which seem, with the exception of certain ports, to 
have been merely the result of a running view of the shore. 
Of this kind of half-knowledge we have had too much : the 
present state of science, which affords such ample means, seems 
to demand that whatever is now done should be finally done ; 
and that coasts, which are constantly visited by English ves- 
sels, should no longer have the motley appearance of alternate 
error and accuracy. If, therefore, the local Governments make 
no objections, the survey should be continued to Coquimbo, 
and indefinitely to the northward, till that period arrives when 
the Commander must determine on quitting the shores of South 
America altogether. That period will depend on the time that 
has been already consumed, and on the previous management 
of his resources, reserving sufficient to ensure his obtaining a 
series of well-selected meridian distances in traversing the Pacific 

" The track he should pursue in executing this important 
duty cannot well be prescribed here, without foreseeing to 
what part of the coast he may have pushed the survey, and 
at what place he may find it convenient to take in his last 
supplies. If he should reach Guayaquil, or even Callao, it 
would be desirable he should run for the Galapagos, and, if 
the season permits, survey that knot of islands. Felix Island, 
the London bank seen by the brig Cannon, in 1827, in 27° 6' 
S. 92° 16' W., even with the water''s edge, and half a mile in 
length ; some coral islands, supposed to be 5° or 6° south of 
Pitcairn Island, and other spots, which have crept into the 
charts on doubtful authority, would all be useful objects of 
research if the Beagle's route should fall in their vicinity. But 
whatever route may be adopted, it should conduct her to 
Tahiti, in order to verify the chronometers at Point Venus, a 
point which may be considered as indisputably fixed by Cap- 
tain Cook's and by many concurrent observations. Except in 
this case, she ought to avoid as much as possible the ground 
examined by Captain Beechey. 


*' From Tahiti the Beagle should proceed to Port Jackson 
touching at some of the intervening islands, in order to divide 
the run into judicious chronometer stages ; for the observatory 
at Paramatta (Port Jackson) being absolutely determined in 
longitude, all those intervening islands will become standard 
points to which future casual voyagers will be able to refer 
their discoveries or correct their chronometers. 

" From Port Jackson her course will depend on tlie time of 
the year. If it be made by the southward, she might touch at 
Hobart Town, King George Sound, and Swan River, to 
determine the difference of longitude from thence to the Mau- 
ritius, avoiding the hurricane months ; to Table or Simon's 
Bay, according to the season ; to St. Helena, Ascension, and 

" If she should have to quit Port Jackson about the middle 
of the year, her passage must be made through Torres Strait. 
In her way thither, if the in-shore route be adopted, there 
are several places whose positions it will be advantageous to 
determine : — Moreton Bay, Port Bowen, Cape Flinders, and 
one of the Prince of Wales Islands ; and in pursuing her way 
towards the Indian Ocean, unless the wind should hang to the 
southward, Cape Valsche or the south-west extreme of New 
Guinea, one of the Serwatty Chain, Coupang, or the extreme 
of Timor, Rotte Island, and one of the extremes of Sandal- 
wood Island, may be easily determined without much loss of 
time. And, perhaps, in crossing the ocean, if circumstances are 
favourable, she might look at the Keeling Islands, and settle 
their position. 

" Having now enumerated the principal places at which the 
Beagle should be directed to touch in her circuit of the globe, 
and described the leading operations which it would be desir- 
able to effect, it remains to make some general remarks on the 
conduct of the whole survey. 

" In such multiplied employments as must fall to the share 
of each officer, there will be no time to waste on elaborate draw- 
ings. Plain, distinct roughs, every where accompanied by 
explanatory notes, and on a sufficiently large scale to show the 



minutise of whatever knowledge has been acquired, will be 
documents of far greater value in this office, to be reduced or 
referred to, than highly finished plans, where accuracy is often 
sacrificed to beauty. 

" This applies particularly to the hills, which in general cost 
so much labour, and aie so often put in from fancy or from 
memory after the lapse of months, if not of years, instead of 
being projected while fresh in the mind, or while any incon- 
sistencies or errors may be rectified on the spot. A few strokes 
of a pen will denote the extent and direction of the several 
slopes much more distinctly than the brush, and if not worked 
up to make a picture, will really cost as little or less time. The 
in-shore sides of the hills, which cannot be seen from any of 
the stations, must always be mere guess-work, and should not 
be shown at all. 

" It should be considered an essential branch of a nautical 
survey, to give the perpendicular height of all remarkable hills 
and headlands. It requires but a single angle at each station, 
adds much to our geographical knowledge, materially assists 
the draftsman, and by tables which are now printing it will 
afford to the seaman a ready and exact means of knowing his 

" All charts and plans should be accompanied by views of the 
land ; those which are to be attached to the former should be 
taken at such a distance as will enable a stranger to recognize 
the land, or to steer for a certain point ; and those best suited 
for tlie plan of a port should show the marks for avoiding 
dangers, for taking a leading course, or choosing an advanta- 
geous berth. In all cases the angular distances and the angular 
altitudes of the principal objects should be inserted in degrees 
and minutes on each of the views, by which means they can be 
projected by scale, so as to correct any want of precision in the 
eye of the draftsman. Such views cannot be too numerous ; 
they cost but a few moments, and are extremely satisfactory to 
all navigators. 

" Trifling as it may appear, the love of giving a multiplicity 
of new and unmeaning names tends to confuse our geogra- 


phical knowledge. The name stamped upon a place by tlie 
first discoverer should be held sacred by the common consent 
of all nations ; and in new discoveries it would be far more 
beneficial to make the name convey some idea of the nature of 
the place ; or if it be inhabited, to adopt the native appellation, 
than to exhaust the catalogue of pubhc characters or private 
friends at home. The officers and crews, indeed, have some 
claim on such distinction, which, slight as it is, helps to excite 
an interest in the voyage. 

" Constant observations on the tides, including their set, 
force, and duration, the distance to which they carry salt 
water up the rivers, their rise at the different periods of the 
lunation, and the extent to which they ai-e influenced by the 
periodic winds, by the sea currents, or by the river freshes, 
form so prominent a part of every surveyor's duty, that 
no specific directions on this subject can be necessary. Nor 
is there any occasion to insist here on the equally important 
subject of currents ; for it is only by a great accumulation 
of data that we can ever hope to reduce them to regular 
systems, or that we can detect the mode in which they are 
affected by change of seasons, or influenced by distant winds. 

" The periods and limits of the monsoons and trade-winds 
will naturally be a continual object of the Commander''s ob- 
servation and study. It is true that he can only witness what 
occurs during his voyage ; but besides collecting facts on this 
and the last subject, on which others can hereafter reason, it will 
be of immense advantage that he should endeavour to digest 
them with the remarks of former voyagers when on the spot. 

" On the western coast of South America, for instance, some 
skill is required in making passages at different periods, and 
much scattered experience has been gained by seamen who 
have been long occupied there ; but this information has not 
yet been presented to the public in an intelligible form ; and 
it seems to be the peculiar province of an officer expressly em- 
ployed on a scientific mission like this, to combine that infor- 
mation with his own, and to render it accessible to every navi- 


" The local attraction of the Beagle will of course have 
been ascertained before she leaves England ; but when favour- 
able opportunities occur, it will be satisfactory to swing her 
again in different latitudes, and under large differences of 

" No day should pass at sea without a series of azimuths, 
and no port should be quitted without having ascertained not 
only the magnetic angle, but the dip, intensity, and diurnal 
variation. If these observations should have been well made 
in the same places before, we shall at once obtain the annual 
change ; and by multiplying them in new places, we shall have 
the means of inferring the magnetic curves. 

" The Commander has been so accustomed to the manage- 
ment of chronometers, that there is no doubt, with proper pre- 
cautions and with proper formulaj for determining their rates, 
that he will succeed in obtaining good results in reasonably 
short intervals of time and in gradual changes of temperature ; 
but after long periods, and sudden changes of heat and cold, 
it will be absolutely necessary to check them by astronomical 

" Eclipses, occultations, lunar distances, and moon-cul- 
minating stars, will furnish those means in abundance : of all 
these, the last can be obtained with the greatest regularity and 
certainty ; they have become part of the current business at 
the establishments of the Cape of Good Hope, Paramatta, and 
St. Helena, in the southern hemisphere ; probably at Madras, 
and in many of the European observatories, and it will there- 
fore be scarcely possible that there should not be corresponding 
observations for all such as he may have made. 

" The eclipses of Jupiter's third and fourth satellites should 
also be sedulously observed whenever both immersion and 
emersion can be seen, as the different powers of the telescopes 
employed by the observers do not in that case affect the 

" There are also some remarkable phenomena, which will be 
announced in the Nautical Almanacks, and which will occur 
during the Beagle's voyage. Some of these will be highly 


interesting to astronomers, and if it would not much derange 
her operations, she should be taken to some convenient ancho- 
rage for the purpose of landing the instruments. 

" If a comet should be discovered while the Beagle is in 
port, its position should be determined every night by observ- 
ing its transit over the meridian, always accompanied by the 
transits of the nearest known stars, and by circum-meridional 
altitudes, or by measuring its angular distance from three well- 
situated stars by a sextant. This latter process can be 
effected even at sea, and the mean of several observations may 
give veiy near approximations to its real position. 

" Meteorological Registers may be of use in a vai-iety of 
ways ; but then they must be steadily and accurately kept. 
The barometer should be read off to the third place of decimals, 
and recorded at regular periods of the day ; nine o''clock and 
four o'clock may be recommended as the best, as being the 
usual hours of its maximum and minimum. The temperature 
should be marked at the same time, and the extremes of the 
self-registering thermometer should be daily recorded; care 
being taken that no reflected heat should act on any of these 
instruments. The temperature of the sea at the surface ought 
to be frequently observed and compared with that of the air. 
An officer cruizing on the east coast of South America, be- 
tween the pai-allels of 20° and 35°, was enabled by these means 
to predict with singular precision the direction and strength of 
the current. 

" In this register the state of the wind and weather will, of 
course, be inserted ; but some intelligible scale should be 
assumed, to indicate the force of the former, instead of the 
ambiguous terms ' fresh,' ' moderate,' &c., in using which no 
two people agree ; and some concise method should also be 
employed for expressing the state of the weather. The sugges- 
tions contained in the annexed printed paper are recommended 
for the above purposes, and if adopted, a copy should be pasted 
on the first page of every volume of the log-book ; and the 
officer of the watch should be directed to use the same terms in 
the columns of the log-board. 


" The circularly-formed Coral Islands in the Pacific occa- 
sionally afford excellent land-locked harbours, with a sufficient 
entrance, and would be well adapted to any nice astronomical 
observations which might require to be carried on in undis- 
turbed tranquillity. While these ai'e quietly proceeding, and 
the chronometers rating, a very interesting inquiry might be 
instituted respecting the formation of these coral reefs. 

" An exact geological map of the whole island should be 
constructed, showing its form, the greatest height to which the 
solid coral has risen, as well as that to which the fragments 
appear to have been forced. The slope of its sides should be 
carefully measured in different places, and particularly on the 
external face, by a series of soundings, at very short distances 
from each other, and carried out to the greatest possible depths, 
at times when no tide or current can affect the perpendicularity 
of the line. A modern and very plausible theory has been put 
forward, that these wonderful formations, instead of ascending 
from the bottom of the sea, have been raised from the sum- 
mits of extinct volcanoes ; and therefore the nature of the 
bottom at each of these soundings should be noted, and every 
means exerted that ingenuity can devise of discovering at what 
depth the coral formation begins, and of what materials the 
substratum on which it rests is composed. The shape, slope, 
and elevation of the coral knolls in the lagoon would also help 
the investigation ; and no circumstances should be neglected 
which can render an account of the general structure clear and 

" A set of observations connected with the theory of the 
tides might likewise be carried on with peculiar propriety in 
one of these coral basins, provided the openings should be 
sufficiently wide and deep to admit the flux and reflux without 
material impediment. The island selected for such a purpose 
should be nearly midway in the ocean, and not very far from 
the equator. There the tidal wave, uninfluenced by the inter- 
rupting barrier of one continent, and equally far from the 
reaction of the other, might be measured with very beneficial 
results. Delicate tide-gauges should be prepared beforehand, 



and immediately fixed in some snug nook, where the undula- 
tion of the sea could not reach. The rise and fall of the tide 
should be registered every hour, during the stay of the Beagle, 
as well as the moments (stated whether in apparent or mean 
time) of high and low water, as nearly as they can be obtained ; 
and the periods at which the sea and land breezes spring up 
and fail should likewise be noted, with their effects on the tide, 
if they can be detected. A boat should be detached, on each 
tide, to some distance from the island, in order to ascertain the 
strength and direction of the stream ; and all these operations 
should be continued, if possible, through a whole lunation. 

" Compiling general and particular instructions, for the 
navigation of all the places which he may visit, will of course 
be an essential part of the Commander's duty ; but he will also 
have innumerable opportunities of collecting a variety of 
auxiliary information, which, when judiciously combined with 
the above instructions, of a purely nautical character, will 
much enhance their utility to all classes of vessels. Such as the 
general resources on which ships may depend in different 
places : the chief productions that can be obtained, and the 
objects most anxiously desired in return : the effect of seasons, 
of climate,, and of peculiar articles of food on the health of the 
crew, and many others which will readily occur to his mind, 
and which become of great value to a stranger. 

" On all the subjects touched on in these memoranda. Com- 
mander Fitz-Roy should be directed to draw up specific reports, 
and to transmit them from time to time, through their Lord- 
ship"'s Secretary, to the Hydrographic Office, so that if any 
disaster should happen to the Beagle, the fruits of the expedi- 
tion may not be altogether lost. Besides such reports, and with 
the same object in view, he should keep up a detailed corres- 
pondence by every opportunity with the Hydrographer. 

" The narrative of every voyage in the Pacific Ocean abounds 
with proofs of the necessity of being unremittingly on guard 
against the petty treacheries or more daring attacks of the 
natives. It should be recollected that they are no longer the 
timid and unarmed creatures of former times, but that many of 



them now possess fire-arms and ammunition, and are skilful 
in the use of them. Temper and vigilance will be the best 
preservatives against trivial offences and misunderstandings, 
which too often end in fatal quarrels ; and true firmness will 
abandon objects of small importance, where perseverance must 
entail the necessity of violence ; for it would be a subject of 
deep regret that an expedition devoted to the noblest purpose, 
the acquisition of knowledge, should be stained by a single act 
of hostility. 

(Signed) " F. Beaufort." 
" Hydrographical Office, 11th November 1831." 




1 Light Air Or just suflSlcient to give steerage way. 

2 Light Breeze ...?^q^ ^^^^ j^ ^^.^^ a man- [ ^ *° 2 knots. 

Gentle Breeze 

and clean full, would go 

5 to 6 knots. 

Moderate Breeze 
Fresh Breeze . . . 
Strong Breeze . . . 
Moderate Gale . 

Fresh Gale 

Strong Gale 

Or that in which a man- 
of-war, with all sail set, ^ 3 to 4 knots, 
and clean full, would go 
in smooth water from 

Or that to which a well- 
\ conditioned man-of- 

Royals, &c. 

Single-reefed topsails 

and top-gall, sails. 
Double-reefed top- 

war could just carry ( sails, jib, &c, 

in chase, full and by 



sails, &c. 
Close-reefed topsails 
L and courses. 

10 Whole Gale ... .Or that with which she could scarcely bear close- 

reefed main-topsail and reefed fore-sail. 

11 Storm Or that which would reduce her to storm stay- 


12 Hurricane Or that which no canvass could withstand. 



b Blue Sky ; (whether clear, or hazy, atmosphere). 
e Clouds; (detached passing clouds). 
d Drizzling Rain. 

f Foggy f Thick fog. 

g Gloomy (dark weather). 
h Hail. 
1 Xiightning. 

m Misty (hazy atmosphere). 

o Overcast (or the whole sky covered with thick clouds). 
p Passing (temporary showers), 
q Squally. 

r Rain (continued rain), 
s Snow, 
t Thunder. 

u Ugly (threatening appearances). 
V Visible (clear atmosphere). 
w Wet Dew. 
. Under any letter, indicates an extraordinary degree. 

By the combination of these letters, all the ordinary phenomena 
of the weather may be expressed with facility and brevity. 

Examples : — Bern, Blue sky, with passing clouds, and a hazy 

Gv, Gloomy dark weather, but distant objects remarkably visible. 

Qpdltj Very hard squalls, with passing showers of drizzle, and 
accompanied by lightning with very heavy thunder. 


Ready for sea— Detained— Sail from England— Well provided — Bay of 
Biscay — Compasses — Local attraction — Eight Stones — Madeira — 
Deception — Squall — Teneriffe — Santa Cruz — Quarantine — Squalls — 
Cape Verd Islands — Port Praya — Produce — Arehilla — Bad season — 
St. Paul Rocks — Cross Equator — Fernando Noronha — Bahia — 
Slavery — Abrolhos — Cape Frio. 

I^' November, the Beagle was ready for sea, but a succes- 
sion of hard gales from the westward prevented her leaving 
England until the end of December. Twice she sailed, and 
went a few leagues ; yet was obliged to return in order to 
avoid the risk of being damaged, or losing a boat, at the very 
beginning of her voyage. At last the westerly gales seemed 
exhausted, a dead calm succeeded, and, warned by the ap- 
pearances so peculiar to easterly winds, we unmoored at day- 
light on the 27th, and, as soon as the tide would allow, for 
there was still no breeze, we warped from our sheltered and 
picturesque retreat in Barn-pool, under that beautiful place 
Mount Edgecumbe. 

Vessels in the offing, and distant land ' looming' much ; a 
few mottled, hard-edged clouds appearing in the east ; streaks 
(mare's tails) across the sky, spreading from the same quarter ; 
a high barometer (30. 3) ; and the smoke from chimneys rising 
high into the air, and then going westwai'd ; were the signs 
which assured us of a favourable wind. A light ' cat's paw' 
rippled the water, we made all sail, the breeze increased, and 
at noon our little vessel was outside the Breakwater, with a 
fresh easterly wind. 

Of the bitter feelings experienced by most of us when every 
sail was trimmed, and the land sinking fast from our view, I 
will say nothing : yet there were enlivening hopes, and all were 
glad to be freed from the tiresome vmcertainty of the past 
month, all were anxious to enter upon a voyage which, though 


likely to be very long, promised much that would interest, 
and excite, and perhaps reward. 

To the executive officers of a ship it is always a most satis- 
factory feeling, independent of other thoughts, to be fairly 
at sea, and away from the scenes of irregularity which so often 
take place in ports. Those scenes, however, are now much less 
offensive, and the sailor is far less heedless than he was for- 
merly, if we may take Fielding's description as authority. That 
humorous sensible author says, in one of the most entertain- 
ing accounts of a voyage ever written, "• To say the truth, from 
what I observed in the behaviour of the sailors in this voyage, 
and comparing it with what I have formerly seen of them, at 
sea, and on shore, I am convinced that on land there is no- 
thing more idle and dissolute ; but, in their own element, there 
are no persons, near the level of their degree, who live in the 
constant practice of half so many good qualities." 

Never, I beheve, did a vessel leave England better pro- 
vided, or fitted for the service she was destined to perform, 
and for the health and comfort of her crew, than the Beagle. 
If we did want any thing which could have been carried, it 
was our own fault ; for all that was asked for, from the Dock- 
yard, Victualling Department, Navy Board, or Admiralty, 
was granted. 

To mention the names of those to whom my shipmates and 
myself felt most grateful for attention to requests, and for a 
kind foresight of our future wants, may be unnecessary, some 
may think improper ; yet, at the risk of offending, I must try 
to express the gratitude that I, and those who sailed with me 
in the Beagle, owe to Sir James Graham, Sir Thomas Hardy, 
Captain Beaufort, Commissioner (now Admiral) Ross, Sir 
Robert Seppings, Sir James Gordon, the late Sir Manley 
Dixon, and Sir William Burnett : less I cannot say, more 
might be displeasing. 

The wind increased, and drove us onwards into the Atlantic 
as fast as a heavily laden small vessel, with her ' scuppers' 
in the water, could be forced. We steered as southerly a course 
as was safe, in hopes of keeping the east wind longer, and the 


result proved that we were right ; for although the Beagle had 
a fair wind all the way to the Canary Islands, vessels which 
sailed from England only one day after her, and steered more 
westerly, lost the east wind very soon, and were retarded by 
another succession of strong and contrary gales, similar to 
those which had detained us a whole month. 

Individual misconduct, arising out of harbour irregularities, 
obliged me to have recourse to harsh measures before we had 
been two days at sea ; but eery naval officer knows the abso- 
lute necessity of a certain degree of what inexperienced per- 
sons might think unnecessary coercion, when a ship is recently 
commissioned. Hating, abhorring corporal punishment, I am 
nevertheless fully aware that there are too many coarse natures 
which cannot be restrained without it, (to the degree required 
on board a ship,) not to have a thorough conviction that it 
could only be dispensed with, by sacrificing a great deal of 
discipline and consequent efficiency. " Certainty of punish- 
ment, without severity," was a maxim of the humane and wise 
Beccaria ; which, with our own adage about a timely ' stitch,' 
is extremely applicable to the conduct of affairs on board a 
ship, where so much often depends upon immediate decision, 
upon instant and implicit obedience. 

We crossed the Bay of Biscay without a gale ; though the 
heavy rolling of a vessel so deep in the water, running before 
a strong wind, was almost as disagreeable as the effects of one 
would have been. After witnessing high seas and storms in 
various parts of the world, I can call to mind only two or 
three that exceeded what I have myself experienced, or what 
I have heard described, as having been sometimes encountered 
in this famed bay. 

Why should the sea be higher, or more dangerous, in the 
bay of Biscay, than it is in the middle of the Atlantic, or 
elsewhere .'' — Is it really so ? — are questions often asked. 

I believe that there is a shorter, higher, and consequently 
worse sea, in and near the Bay of Biscay, than is often 
found in other places, and attribute it to the effect of im- 
mense Atlantic waves, rolling into a deep bight, or bay, where 

Dec. 1831. VESSEL easy — compasses. 45 

they close upon each other and receive vibratory undulations 
from each shore ; augmented perhaps by the peculiar formation 
of the bottom of that bay, the variation in depth, and the 
effects of currents, which, when running over uneven ground, 
or against the wind, alone cause a heavy swell; a striking 
exemplification of which may be seen on the bank of Lagullas, 
near the Cape of Good Hope. 

Though so deep in the water, our little vessel's movements 
were uncommonly easy, and all our best timekeepers being 
hung in particularly good jimbals, I had no fear of their rates 
being altered, except by the effect of a change of temperature. 
This was a point about which I was especially anxious, as 
so much would depend upon the going of our chronometers, 
and I did not then think that the motions of a ship affected 
those instruments so little : as I have since proved to be the 
case by trying them frequently in boats, or small craft of 
only a few tons burthen. In her previous voyage the Beagle 
was as easy a sea^boat as could be desired ; but, having raised 
her upper deck, altered her stowage and trim, loaded her 
more heavily, and sheathed her with two-inch plank, prepara- 
tory to this second expedition, I had abundant cause to feel 
anxious until the practical effects of such material changes 
were ascertained. 

A little alteration was required near the compasses, for 
owing to some ill-placed iron-work they did not quite agree ; 
but, after this change was made, we were gratified by finding 
four first-rate compasses, three fixed for steering, and one for 
bearings, agree precisely. Another source of satisfaction, 
connected with the compasses, was the knowledge that they 
were not affected, unless in a very trifling degree, by local 
attraction : for while lying in Barn-pool we swung the vessel 
in order to ascertain its quantity, but were agreeably surprised 
to find that none could be detected amounting even to one 
degree. This was attributed to her having only brass guns ; 
and to some very large iron davits for the quarter boats, 
which were placed rather closely abaft and above the com- 
passes, and perhaps counteracted the effect of iron in the hold, 
which was so much more distant. 


On the 3d of January we were occupied in looking for 
the " Eiffht Stones ;"' but nothing was seen to indicate either 
rocks, or shoals, or even shallow water. The sun was shining 
brightly on a deep blue sea, of one uniform colour : no sound- 
ings could be obtained ; and had there been a shoal or rock 
within seven miles of us at any hour of that day, it could not 
have been passed unnoticed. So many vessels have searched, 
in vain, for this alleged group of rocks, that their existence 
can now hardly be thought possible. 

At day-light, on the 4th, the rocky high islet of Porto 
Santo was seen looming through haze and clouds which hung 
around it. We steered between Porto Santo and the Desertas, 
intendine: to anchor in Funchal Roads .• but the wind drew 
round to south-west, with such strong squalls, that I abandoned 
my intention, and at once steered for TenerifFe. The roadstead 
I have just mentioned is well known to be unsafe in south- 
west gales ; and there can be no doubt that the most prudent 
plan is to keep at sea while they last : but I have been told by 
old traders to Madeira, that ships sometimes remain at anchor, 
about half a mile from the Loo rock, and ride out south-west 
gales without difficulty : the ' under-tow' being so considerable 
that their cables are little strained. 

In fine weather, and it is fine at Madeira nine months in the 
year, the view of this steep and lofty island,* covered with bright 
verdure, and enlivened by numerous scattered houses, as white 
as snow, is very striking to a stranger who arrives from the low, 
and tame-looking shores of the south coast of England. 

Seamen are often deceived, when about to anchor in Funchal 
Roads, in consequence of the sudden transition which they 
have probably made from a low shelving coast to an abrupt 
and high mountain-side : for the bottom of the anchorage slopes 
away as suddenly as the heights overlooking it, and the anchor 
must indeed be let go upon the side of a mountain. Hence 
ships seldom go close enough, unless guided by a person who 
knows the place ; and many a chain cable ran out to the clinch, 
when chains were first used, owing to an incorrect estimate of 
* About five tliousand feet high. 


jstt-v ^HiSB^. 

l?AW(S»Oa&EflQ® "ifOF.W ©If MA©[EO(aAo 

L'usii-.shr-a bj s^enry CoIbtcm.Grefti Marlbcrrough Street. 1B36. 


the vessel's distance from the shore, and not taking time to 
sound accurately. 

Closing the land quickly after passing some time at sea — 
approaching high cliffs, or hilly shores, after being, for a time, 
accustomed to low coasts — or nearing a flat shore, after the eye 
has been used to precipices and mountains — almost always is a 
cause of error in estimating distance, however experienced a 
seaman may be. 

While passing at a few leagues from the land, a violent 
squall came from the west, which was near doing damage : 
after one puff there was a short calm, with heavy rain, and 
then a sudden blast struck the ship so violently that we were 
obliged to take in all sail and run before it during the few 
minutes it lasted. This squall was one of very many which 
have reminded me of the old doggrel lines — 

When rain comes before the wind, 
Halyards, sheets, and braces mind : 
But if wind comes before rain, 
Set and trim your sails again. 

At daylight the next morning we saw the Salvages, and at sun- 
set thought we could distinguish the Peak of Teneriffe. 

Early on the 6th we saw part of the island, and soon after- 
wards the upper clouds dispersed, and we enjoyed a magni- 
ficent view of the monarch of the Atlantic : the snow-covered 
peak glittering in the rays of the morning sun. Yet as our 
ideas are very dependent upon comparison, 1 suppose that 
persons who have seen the Himalaya Mountains, or the Andes, 
in all their grandeur, would not dwell much upon the view 
of Teneriffe, had it not become classical by its historical asso- 
ciations, and by the descriptions of Humboldt and many dis- 
tinguished travellers. 

Although some geographers adopted the Peak of Teneriffe 
as a zero point from which to reckon longitude, I am free to 
say, that a less satisfactory one could hardly have been selected ; 
because there are no means of connecting the position of the 
peak with that of the observer, whether on the shore of the 


island, or on board a ship in the ofRng, except by a trigono- 
metrical process, always open to errors. Indeed the summit of 
the peak is not visible from the east, on account of intervening 
land, until the observer is at some distance from the shore. 
Hence all meridian distances measured from Teneriffe must 
depend upon the degree of accuracy with which the position of 
the actual starting-point, with respect to the Peak, was deter- 

How many errors have been caused in ascertaining the lon- 
gitudes of distant places, by a mistake in the longitude of the 
position from which a ship, or an observer, actually departed ! 
How many discrepancies between the measurements of different 
nations would vanish, if the precise points from which each 
observer set out were known; and if the positions of those 
points, with respect to one another, were accurately verified ! 

About noon we approached the sun-burned, uninviting town 
of Santa Cruz. Lying upon a level, arid space, at the foot of 
hills, that rise slowly to a considerable height, so as to shut 
out the more elevated part of the island ; hardly a tree to be 
seen, and no appearance of cultivation ; guarded by a rocky 
shore, on which there is always a disagreeable — often a danger- 
ous surf; it offers indeed little to tempt delay. But notwith- 
standing this unpromising exterior, and a port so exposed that 
Spanish ships of war were ordered by their Government to 
moor there with four anchors, there is much to be found in 
the higher and interior parts of Teneriffe which amply repays 
the labour of ascending to and exploring those regions. In one 
of the churches in Santa Cruz is still hanging the remains of a 
flag, taken from the English, or left behind, when Nelson lost 
his arm. 

Our anchor had just touched the ground, when a boat from 
the Health Office approached nearly along-side, conveying the 
British vice-consul and some quarantine officers, who told us, 
after hearing whence we came, that it would be impossible to 
grant permission for any person to land ; and that until we 
should have performed a strict quarantine of twelve days' dura- 
tion, no personal communication could be expected. This 


regulation was adopted on account of the reports which had 
reached them respecting the cholera in England. 

Observations on shore being indispensable for our purpose, 
and finding, after some discussion, that there was no chance of 
attaining our object in a manner that would at all compensate 
for the delay caused by anchoring and performing quarantine, 
we weighed without further loss of time, and made sail for the 
Cape Verd Islands. 

This was a great disappointment to Mr. Darwin, who had 
cherished a hope of visiting the Peak. To see it — to anchor 
and be on the point of landing, yet be obliged to turn away 
without the slightest prospect of beholding TenerifFe again — 
was indeed to him a real calamity. 

During the whole of the 7th, the Peak was visible ; but on 
the following day no land was in sight, and we made rapid 
progi-ess. A very long swell from the north-west, which we 
felt until the 10th, was probably caused by a gale in the nor- 
thern Atlantic ; and, judging from its size and velocity, I 
should think that it could not have subsided before traversing 
many, perhaps ten more, degrees of latitude ; which would be 
to about 10° north. It is interesting to notice how far the 
undulatory movement of water reaches : in this case it ex- 
tended through at least ten decrees of latitude where the wind 
was from different quarters, and probably much farther. 

An unusual appearance was observed on the 12th. A cloud 
like a dense fog-bank approached ; and as it drew near, the 
lower and darker part became arched, and rose rapidly, while 
under it was a white glare, which looked very suspicious. 
Sail was immediately reduced — we expected a violent squall ; 
but the cloud dispersed suddenly, and only a common fresh 
breeze came from the foreboding quarter. Neither the sympie- 
someter nor the barometer had altered at all ; but the cloud 
was so threatening that I put no trust in their indications, not 
being then so firm a believer in their prophetic movements as 
I am at present. Nevertheless, I would by no means advocate 
the neglect of any precaution suggested by appearances of the 



weatlier, although no change should be foretold by the glasses. 
A mistake may be made by the observer, or a variation in the 
height of the column may have passed unlieeded ; while it is 
seldom that a practised eye can be deceived by the visible 
signs of an approaching squall or gale of wind. 

Undoubtedly the worst wind, next to a hurricane, which a 
vessel can encounter, is a violent ' white squall,' so called 
because it is accompanied by no cloud or peculiar appearance 
in the sky, and because of its tearing up the surface of the sea, 
and sweeping it along so as to make a wide sheet of foam. By 
squalls of this description, frequent in the West-Indies, and 
occasionally felt in other parts of the world, no notice will be 
given much above the horizon ; but by consulting a good 
barometer or sympiesometer, and frequently watching the 
surface of the sea itself, even a white squall may be guarded 
against in sufficient time. 

Squalls accompanied by clouds are so common, and at sea 
every one is so much accustomed to look out for them, that I 
may cause a smile by these notices ; yet as there is often much 
doubt in a young officer's mind, whether an approaching cloud 
will be accompanied by wind or rain, or by both, and 
many persons are unable to distinguish, by the mere appearance 
of a cloud, what is likely to come with or from it, I will 
venture to mention that when they look hard, or hard- 
edged (like Indian ink rubbed upon an oily plate), they 
indicate wind, and perhaps rain; but before the rain falls, 
those clouds will assume a softer appearance. When they are 
undefined, and look soft, rain will follow, but probably not 
much wind. 

Dark clouds, hard mixed with soft, and inky fragments 
in rapid motion beneath them, accompanied perhaps by light- 
ning and distant thunder, are the fore-runners of a heavy 
squall. Soft, shapeless clouds, in which it is impossible to 
point out a definite edge, usually bring rain, but not wind : 
and, generally speaking, the more distinctly defined the edges 
of clouds are, the more wind they foretell. A little attention 


to these simple observations, so familar to persons who have 
been some time at sea, may save young officers unnecessary 
anxiety in one case, and prompt them to shorten sail at a 
proper time in the other.* 

In again trying for soundings with three hundred fathoms 
of line, near the Island of St. Jago, we became fully con- 
vinced of the utility of a reel, which Captain Beaufort had 
advised me to procure, and of which Captain Vidal had 
spoken to him in very favourable terms. Two men were 
able to take in the deep sea line, by this machine, without 
interfering with any part of the deck, except the place near 
the stern, where the reel was firmly secured. Throughout 
our voyage this simple contrivance answered its object ex- 
tremely well, and saved the crew a great deal of harassing 

15th. In consequence of a thick haze, very prevalent about 
the Cape Verd Islands, land was not distinctly seen until we 
were within three miles of it, and we then found ourselves 
rather too far westward, owing to a current setting towards 
the west, at the rate of two knots an hour ; this was close to 
the north point of St. Jago. Next day Ave anchored in Port 

The wind being always from the north or east during this 
season of the year (from December to June), a ship can 
moor as close to the weather shore as may be convenient ; 
but during July, August, September and October, no vessel 
should deem the bay secure, or anchor near the shore, because 
southerly gales sometimes blow with much strength, and the 
rollers, or heavy swell sent in by them, are dangerous to 
ships which have bad ground tackle, or are lying near the 
land. As I have myself experienced the force of these gales 
in the vicinity of the Cape Verd Islands, and witnessed the sea 
raised by them, I can confidently warn those who are inclined 
to be incredulous about a gale of wind being found in fifteen 
degrees of north latitude, beyond the limits of the hurricane 


• In the Appendix are a few remarks on clouds. 
K 2 


Strono- crusts come over the land into the bay during the 
fine season, when the breeze is fresh ; therefore a ship entering, 
with intent to anchor, ought to have a reef in her top-sails, and 
be ready to clew up the top-gallant sails at a moment's warning. 

The vicinity of Port Praya offers little that is agreeable to 
the eye of an ordinary visitor, though interesting enough to 
a geologist. A desolate and hilly country, sun-burned and 
stony, with but few trees even in the vallies, and those only the 
withering, spectre-like trunks of old palms, surrounds the har- 
bour. The distant and higher parts of the island, however, pre- 
sent a striking outline ; and in the interior there is more to be 
seen, as the following extract from a few notes made by Mr. 
Rowlett Avill show. 

" We procured some indifferent horses and rode to Ribeira 
Grande, the remains of an old town, about nine miles west of 
Port Praya, which was formerly the residence of the Portu- 
guese governor of the Cape Verd Islands ; but in consequence 
of the anchorage becoming blocked up,* the seat of govern- 
ment was shifted to the small straggling town, or rather 
village, which stands upon a height overlooking the port of 
Praya. We passed through the fertile and beautiful vallies 
of Achao and San Martin, and enjoyed drinking some of 
the finest water we had ever tasted. On a commandino; 
height stood the ruins of a very large fortress, and within the 
limits of the old town were remains of a cathedral, a bishop's 
palace, and a college ; besides a modern church, in tolerable 
repair, an inhabited convent, and a hospital supported by 
charity. In the convent we saw some good paintings 
from scriptural subjects; and there were some curious old 
tombs, on one of which, said to be that of a bishop, was the 
date 1571, and on another we thought the almost obliterated 
figures were 1497. 

" No person wlio has only visited the port of Praya can 
form the slightest idea of the beauty of the interior coun- 
try ; it exceeded any thing I had seen, either in Brazil or in 
the West Indies. 

* Perhaps by ati cai thqiiake ? 


" Fruit was abundant; there were oranges, grapes, plantains, 
bananas, sour-sops, mammee apples, pomegranates, guavas, 
quinces, sapodillas, papaw apples, pines, citrons, medlars, 
figs, and occasionally apples." 

Notwithstanding its unfavourable exterior, its small and 
dirty town, and its black or brown population, I am inclined 
to think Port Praya of more consequence to shipping than is 
usually supposed. Water may be procured by rafting the 
casks, placing a pump in the well, and hiring a few of the 
natives to do the more laborious work of filling and rolling. 
The local authorities are attentive and obliging : it is indeed 
their interest to be so, because much of their trade, and even 
many of the necessaries of life, depend upon the visits of ship- 
ping. Fowls, turkeys, and pigs, are very plentiful, but it is 
better to procure them by barter than with money. Clothes, 
new or old, are eagerly sought for, and their full value may be 
obtained in the produce of the island. 

The population is said to be about thirty thousand, a few of 
whom are Portuguese by birth, and many are descended from 
Portuguese parents, but the greater number are negroes. 

I could hear no decided account of any earthquake having 
happened ; but being so near Fogo, now an active volcano, 
one may suppose that St. Jago is not exempted from an occa- 
sional shock. 

The exports of the Cape Verd Islands are small quantities of 
sugar, cotton, and coffee. Hides of small bullocks, sheep and 
goat-skins, are likewise exported ; and horses, mules, and asses, 
of an inferior description, are sometimes sent to the West- 
Indies. The Archilla weed, so much used in dyeing, is 
however the staple commodity, and, under proper manage- 
ment, might be made highly profitable. At the time of our 
visit, the yearly revenue arising out of the government mono- 
poly of this article amounted to fifty thousand dollars ; and 
in some years it has been as much as three hundi-ed thou- 
sand dollars. This weed grows like a kind of moss upon 
the cliffs, and is collected by men who climb up or are let 
down by ropes, like the samphire gatherers. 


The natural dye is blue, approaching to purple ; but by 
using metallic and other solutions, it may be turned to purple, 
crimson, or scarlet. 

Money having been slowly remitted of late years from 
the mother-country, a great part of the archilla has been 
applied to the payment of the authorities, the clergy, and the 
troops (such as they are). A story is told of the last governor 
having caused a sham mutiny, in order that he might have a 
good reason for selling the archilla gathered that year, and with 
the produce paying the troops — and himself. He was brought 
out with a rope round his neck into the street, and there 
obliged to promise that he would sell the archilla, then in the 
government storehouse, to the best bidder. 

A kind of castor-oil plant is found, from which a small 
quantity of oil is obtained, and a sort of soap. Yams are very 
scarce, being grown only at one part of the island. Mandioca 
is common, but it degenerates rapidly, and will not produce 
even a second crop. Vegetables of various kinds are abun- 
dant in their seasons. 

From August to October is the rainy and sickly season. In 
September, a south-west gale is usually experienced ; but from 
five to ten hours before its commencement, a dark bank of 
clouds is seen in the sovithern horizon, which is a sure 
forerunner of the gale. Should a vessel be at anchor in the 
port at such a time, she ought to weigh and put to sea, until 
the storm has ceased and the swell subsided. In the month 
of September preceding our visit, an American rnerchant-brig 
and a Portuguese slaver were at anchor in Port Praya. A 
bank of clouds was seen during the day in the S.W., and the 
American went to sea ; but the slaver remained at anchor. 
A storm arose at night, drove the slave-vessel ashore, and 
dashed her to pieces in less than half an hour, yet did the 
American no damage whatever, and the next day she an- 
chored again in the port. 

In a valley near the town is a very remarkable tree, 
of the Baobab kind, supposed to be more than a thousand 
years old ; but I am not aware of the grounds upon which this 


assertion is made. Wild guinea-fowls are found in flocks, 
and there are wild-cats in the unfrequented parts of the 
island ; but if induced to take a gun in pursuit of the guinea- 
fowls, I would advise a stranger not to overheat himself, or 
sleep on shore at night ; for fatal fevers have been contracted 
by Europeans, who were unguarded as to their health, while 
passing a few days in this hot climate, after being for some 
time accustomed to the cold weather of a high northern latitude. 

Except during the rainy season, the wind is always north- 
easterly, and then the sky is clear and the sun very powerful ; 
but a dry haze hangs over the island in a peculiar manner, 
and a quantity of fine dust, quite an impalpable powder, fre- 
quently settles on every exposed surface, even on the sails 
and rigging of a vessel, when passing near the islands. 

On the 8th of February our instruments were re-embarked, 
and, after swinging the ship to ascertain the amount of local 
attraction, we weighed anchor and sailed. By the compass 
fixed upon a stanchion in front of the poop, not twenty minutes 
difference of bearing could be detected, in any position of the 
vessel : the object observed being the highest point of a sharp 
peak, distant eleven miles. 

On the 10th we spoke the Lyra packet, going from England 
to Rio de Janeiro, and received a box from her, containing 
six of Massey's sounding-leads, those excellent contrivances 
which we frequently found so useful. These machines, as 
formerly made, did not answer for a much greater depth than 
one hundred fathoms ; because their hollow cylinder yielded 
to the pressure of the water : but Mr. Massey has since 
remedied that defect in their construction. 

On the 13th a very confused swell seemed to presage a 
change of weather. Hitherto the wind had been steady from 
the north-east, and the sky clear ; but on this day large soft 
clouds, light variable breezes, rain, and sometimes a short 
calm, showed us that we had passed the limits of the north- 
east trade wind. 14th. Similar weather, with a good deal of 
rain, but still breeze enough to keep us moving on our covirsei 

On the loth, the wind was steady from east south-east. 

S6 - ST. PAUL ROCKS — BIliDS. Feb. 

and the sky free from heavy threatening clouds. We had then 
entered the south-east trade wind, without having had two 
hours calm. 

St. Paul Rocks, or Penedo de San Pedro, were seen on the 
horizon at sunset of the 15th. They appeared extremely small, 
being about eight miles distant ; and had we not been looking 
out for them, I doubt whether they would have attracted 
attention. Excepting " Las Hormigas,"" on the coast of Peru, I 
never saw such mere rocks at so great a distance from any land. 

At daylight next morning, two boats were sent to land 
upon, and examine them ; while the Beagle sailed round this 
" sunk mountain top," sounding, and taking angles. Good 
observations were made during the day, as the sky was clear, 
and the water smooth. 

When our party had effected a landing through the surf, 
and had a moment's leisure to look about them, they were 
astonished at the multitudes of birds which covered the rocks, 
and absolutely darkened the sky. Mr. Darwin afterwards said, 
that till then he had never believed the stories of men knock- 
ing down birds with sticks ; but there they might be kicked, 
before they would move out of the way. 

The first impulse of our invaders of this bird-covered 
rock, was to lay about them like schoolboys ; even the geo- 
logical hammer at last became a missile. " Lend me the ham- 
mer.?'''' asked one. " No, no,'"'' replied the owner, " you'll break 
the handle ;" but hardly had he said so, when, overcome by the 
novelty of the scene, and the example of those around him, 
away went the hammer, with all the force of his own right-arm. ' 

While our party were scrambli^ig over the rock, a deter- 
mined struggle was going on in the water, between the boats'* 
crews and sharks. Numbers of fine fish, like the groupars (or 
garoupas) of the Bermuda Islands, bit eagerly at baited hooks 
put overboard by the men ; but as soon as a fish was caught, 
a rush of voracious sharks was made at him, and notwith- 
standing blows of oars and boat hooks, the ravenous monsters 
could not be deterred from seizing and taking away more than 
half the fish that were hooked. 


At short intervals the men beat the water with their oars 
all round the boats, in order to drive away the sharks ; and 
for a few minutes afterwards the groupars swarmed about the 
baited hooks, and were caught as fast as the lines could be 
hauled up— then another rush of sharks drove them away — 
those just caught were snatched off the hooks; and again the 
men were obliged to beat the water. When the boats returned 
they were deeply laden with birds and fish, both welcome to 
those who had been living on salt provisions. 

From the highest point of the rock,* no discoloured water, 
nor any breaking of the sea, could be discerned, apart from 
the place itself ; and from the soundings taken in the boats, 
as well as on board the ship, I conclude that it is uncon- 
nected with any shoal, being merely the summit of a steep- 
sided mountain rising from the bottom of the ocean. 

There was a sHght current setting to the westward, not 
amounting to a mile an hour. 

At sunset that day we were out of sight of St. Paul (or St. 
Peter), and soon after dark were hailed by the gruff voice of 
a pseudo-Neptune. A few credulous novices ran upon the 
forecastle to see Neptune and his car, and were received with 
the watery honours which it is customary to bestow, on such 

Next morning we crossed the Equator, and the usual cere- 
monies were performed. 

Deep was the bath, to wash away all ill ; 

Notched was the razor — of bitter taste the pill. 

Most ruffianly the barber looked — his comb was trebly nailed — 

And water, dashed from every side, the neophyte assailed. 

The disagreeable practice alluded to has been permitted in 
most ships, because sanctioned by time ; and though many con- 
demn it as an absurd and dangerous piece of folly, it has also 
many advocates. Perhaps it is one of those amusements, of 
which the omission might be regretted. Its effects on the minds 
of those engaged in preparing for its mummeries, who enjoy it 

* Sixty-four feet above the sea. 


at the time, and talk of it long afterwards, cannot easily be 
judged of without being an eye-witness. 

During the early ages of navigation, before the invention of 
the compass, somewhat similar, though really ceremonious 
rites were observed in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian ves- 
sels, when they passed the more remarkable promontories then 
known. A modern voyager, Kotzebue, notices this subject in a 
manner which appears to me so sensible, that I shall quote his 
words without affecting to add another remark. 

" On the 11th of October we crossed the Equator, at twenty- 
five degrees west longitude, reckoning from Greenwich. Hav- 
ing saluted the southern hemisphere by the firing of guns, our 
crew proceeded to enact the usual ceremonies. A sailor, who 
took pride in having frequently passed the line, directed the 
performance with nmch solemnity and decorum. He appeared 
as Neptune, attired in a manner that was meant to be terribly 
imposing, accompanied by his consort, seated on a gun-car- 
riage instead of a shell, drawn by negroes, as substitutes for 
tritons. In the evening the sailors represented, amidst general 
applause, a comedy of their own composition. 

" These sports, while they serve to keep up the spirits of the 
men, and make them forget the difficulties they have to go 
through, produce also the most beneficial influence upon their 
health ; a cheerful man being much more capable of resisting 
a fit of sickness than a melancholy one. It is the duty of com- 
manders to use every innocent means of maintaining this temper 
in their crews ; for, in long voyages, when they are several 
months together wandering on an element not destined by nature 
for the residence of man, without enjoying even occasionally the 
recreations of the land, the mind naturally tends to melancholy, 
which of itself lays the foundation of many diseases, and some- 
times even of insanity. Diversion is often the best medicine, and 
used as a preservative, seldom fails of its effect." — (Kotzebue's 
Voyage,' 1823-26.) 

Before sunset on the 19th we saw the island of Fernando 
Noronha, with its singular peak towering aloft, and at mid- 
night anchored in the roadstead. 


Next morning I landed with difficulty for observations, the 
surf being so high that any common boat would have been 
swamped. By taking great care, our broad and well-built whale- 
boats landed the instruments and a small party, and re-em- 
barked them afterwards, without accident. 

We landed in a small bay under the (so called) citadel, but 
there is a safer and in every way preferable landing-place about 
a mile to the northward. My object being chiefly to take 
sights of the sun, for time, and compare the clu'onometers used 
on shore as soon as possible with those on board, I preferred 
landing as near as I could to the place where the lamented 
Captain Foster observed : — but it was difficult to ascertain 
the house in which his pendulum observations were made. Not 
even the governor could tell me, for he had arrived since Cap- 
tain Foster's departure ; and most of the inhabitants of the 
island had changed their dwellings frequently, being all exiles 
from Brazil. 

The governor was a major in the Brazilian service, born at 
Pernambuco, and under his command were two hundred black 
troops, and about eight hundred human beings, only tliirty 
of whom were women, and a very few children. 

We obtained some fire- wood from one of the islets north- 
wai-d of the principal island ; but it was full of centipedes and 
other noxious insects, from which it was not easy to free it 
even by charring and washing. Water we did not try to get, 
because of the heavy surf, but there is no scarcity of it on 
the island. Neither live-stock nor vegetables could be pro- 
cured from the apathetic inhabitants. 

This place is rather picturesque ; and the lofty barren peak, 
already mentioned, is conspicuous from every point of view. 
Near the summit is a station from which a look-out is kept, 
not only over all the island, but over many leagues of the sur- 
rounding sea ; so that neither ship nor boat can approach 
or depart, during daylight, without being noticed. 

No boats are allowed to be kept on the island, and no 
intercourse is held with shipping without permission and the 
btrictest inspection. 

We sailed from Fernando Noronha the same evening, passed 


round the north-east extremity of the island, and steered for 
Bahia de Todos Santos. Having remained only one day at 
anchor, in consequence of information that no better landing 
could be expected for many days ; and wishing to ascertain the 
rates of the chronometers, as well as to procure a supply of 
water, I decided to go to Bahia, as the nearest port convenient 
for both purposes. From the 23d to the 27th we found a cur- 
rent setting us southward, between twenty and thirty miles 
each day. This was quite unexpected by me, for I thought 
that we should have been set westward. At daylight on the 
28th we made the land about Bahia, and before noon were at 
anchor in the port. 

As we sailed in rapidly from the monotonous sea, and 
passed close along the steep but luxuriantly wooded north 
shore, we were much struck by the pleasing view. After the 
light-house was passed, those by whom the scene was unex- 
pected were agreeably surprised by a mass of wood, clinging 
to a steep bank, which rose abruptly from the dark-blue sea, 
showing every tint of green, enlivened by bright sunshine, 
and contrasted by deep shadow : and the general charm was 
heightened by turretted churches and convents, whose white 
walls appeared above the waving palm trees ; by numerous 
shipping at anchor or under sail ; by the delicate airy sails of 
iimumerable canoes ; and by the city itself, rising like an 
amphitheatre from the water-side to the crest of the heights. 

We found ourselves in the middle of the rainy season, and 
although favoured by a fine day at arriving, cloudy weather 
and frequent rain succeeded it, and during the short stay we 
made, much embarrassed our observations. 

Bahia has declined ever since its separation from Por- 
tugal : unsettled, weak governments, occupied too constantly 
by party strife to be able to attend to the real improvement 
of their country, have successively misruled it. Revolutions, 
and risings of the negro population, interrupting trade, have 
repeatedly harassed that rich and beautiful country, and are 
still impending. 

Were property secure, and industry encouraged, the trade 
from Bahia miglit be very extensive, particularly in sugar and 


cotton : but who will embark much capital upon so insecure a 
foundation as is there offered .'' 

The immense extent and increase of the slave population is 
an evil long foreseen and now severely felt. Humanely as the 
Brazilians in general treat their slaves, no one can suppose 
that any benevolence will eradicate feelings excited by the 
situation of those human beings. Hitherto the obstacles to 
combinations and general revolt among the negroes, have been 
ignorance, mutual distrust, and the fact of their being natives 
of various countries, speaking different languages, and in many 
cases hostile to each other, to a degree that hardly their hatred 
of white men can cause them to conquer, even for their imme- 
diate advantage. 

The slave trade has already entailed some of its lamentable 
consequences upon the Brazilians, in demoralizing them by ex- 
treme indolence, and its sure accompaniment, gross sensuality; 
but there are in store afflictions hitherto unfelt, occasioned by 
the growing hordes of enemies who are yearly causing more 
perplexity and dread in the territories of Brazil. 

Could the Brazilians see clearly their own position, unani- 
mously condemn and prevent the selfish conduct of individuals, 
emancipate the slaves now in their country, and decidedly 
prevent the introduction of more, Brazil would commence a 
career of prosperity, and her population would increase in an 
unlimited degree. In that immense and most fertile country, 
distress cannot be caused by numerous inhabitants ; food is 
abundant, and the slight clothing required in so warm a climate 
is easily procured. 

The chief, if not the only cause of the slave trade in Brazil, 
is want of population — want of an industrious population, 
able as well as willing to clear away primeval forests, and 
render the soil fit for culture — able to work in the open 
fields under a hot sun, to cultivate the sugar cane, cotton 
plants, mandioca, and other productions of tropical climates. 

While this extensive and most powerful cause exists, selfish, 
unprincipled owners of immense territories in Brazil, and else- 
where, will not refrain from importing hundreds, even thou- 

62 SLAVERY — CITY. March 

sands of unhappy wretches, who, once landed, become the 
helpless instruments of immense gain to their owners : neither 
can any reasonable number of shipping efficiently blockade 
the coasts of two great continents. 

If I am right in these assertions, it appears that there is 
no method by which the slave trade can be totally suppressed, 
except by destroying the cause of so abominable a traffic : and 
that, to this end, a native population should be encouraged in 
hot climates, who, being gradually inured to work on their 
native soil, for remuneration from their employers, and a pros- 
pect of future comfort for themselves and their offspring, would 
totally supersede the demand for constrained labour. Of course, 
the only way by which such a result could be obtained — I 
should say, perhaps, the first step towards so satisfactory a 
result, would be, that the government of a slave-importing 
country should declare that trade piratical : and proclaim 
every human being free ; bound to no man, free to do any 
thing not contrary to religion, or law, from the moment he or 
she embarked on board a vessel belonging to that country, or 
placed a foot upon its soil ; which might then indeed be termed, 
in common with our happy land, a sacred soil. By such a 
plan as this, individuals would suffer for a time, but the mass 
of society would be gainers incalculably. 

WeU-known authors have already said so much of Bahia, its 
spacious harbour, and delightful environs, that it Avould be 
impertinent in the writer of a mere narrative to add his hasty 
remarks to the calmly considered information which their works 
contain. But I will venture to notice that however pleased 
a stranger to Bahia may be at the sensations conveyed through 
his eyes, previous to landing, he will be miserably disap- 
pointed when he finds himself in the dij'ty, narrow, crowded, 
and hot ' lower town ;■■ and that the sooner he gets into a 
sedan* chair, and desires the almost naked bearers to make the 
best of their way to the ' upper town,' where he will enjoy 

* An arm-chair, with a high hack, a foot-board, and curtains to draw 
round, hung to a pole which rests on the shoulders of two men. 





■■■'i? •''X ''\ 


fresh air, a pleasing view, and freedom from annoyances, the 
less his organs will be offended, and his temper tried. 

We sailed from Bahia on the 18th. The bank which pro- 
jects from the light-house point had been minutely examined 
by us, during the Beagle's stay in port ; on one day, indeed, 
she went out and anchored at the outer end of the shoal, in 
order to determine its extent, and assist the boats in sounding ; 
therefore I did not hesitate to stand across it ; but there is not 
water enough over the shallower parts for any ship dra\nng 
more than fourteen feet, especially if there is a swell. The 
shoalest spot is near the outer end ; ships of any size may pass 
between the inner extremity and the pcant of land adjacent 
to it. 

There are rocks and dangerous shallows southward of the 
port, which it is extremely necessary to guard against in 
approaching it from sea, because the current generally sets 
towards the south, and ships have got ashore on those shoals 
in consequence. The land northward of Bahia should be 
made, and some white sandy patches, looking like linen hung 
out to dry, should be seen before a ship steers more southerly. 
After losing sight of the land, our course was shaped to the 
south-east, towards the eastern limit of the great bank of 
soundings which extends so far to seaward of the Abrolhos 
islets. Having reached the parallel of the islands, and being to 
the eastward of the easternmost soundings laid down in any 
chart, without finding any ground with three hundred fathoms 
of line, I began to steer westward — sounding continually, and 
keeping a sharp look-out at the mast-head. At two in the 
afternoon of the 26th, we had no bottom, with three hundred 
fathoms of line; and at the next cast, about an hour afterwards, 
found only thirty fathoms, without there being the slightest 
change in the colour of the water, or in its temperature, or any 
other indication of so sudden a change in the depth. We hauled 
to the wind directly, worked to the eastward in order to ascer- 
tain the precise limit of the bank, and lost soundings as sud- 
denly as we had previously struck them. A grapnel was then 
put overboard, with two hundred fathoms of line, and we 


again steered westward, till a heavy pull upon the line, and 
a sudden jerk, showed that we had hooked the bank. 

The ship was hove-to, and the necessary observations made 
on the spot. The grapnel, when hauled up, was found to be 
straightened, a proof, in addition to that afforded by the lead, 
that the bottom was rocky. Our soundings at this time were 
thirty-eight fathoms, and thence to the Abrolhos islets we 
carried a line of soundings, no where exceeding that depth, 
but extremely irregular, between thirty-six and four fathoms. 

As far as we had time to examine, the chart of these islands, 
by the Baron Roussin, appeared to be satisfactory ; but the 
soundings are so very irregular in the vicinity of the Abrolhos, 
that little dependence could be placed on the lead. More than 
once we had four or five fathoms under one side of the vessel, 
and from fifteen to twenty under the other. These sudden and 
startling changes, called by the French, ' Sauts de sonde,' are 
very unpleasant and perplexing. 

The tide, or rather current, which we found when lying at 
anchor near the islets, set continually to the southward, vary- 
ing in strength from half a mile to a mile and a half an hour ; 
but we had only three days' experience. 

I had imagined, from what I had heard, that the rock of 
which these islets were chiefly composed was coral ; but was sur- 
prized to find only coralline growing upon gneiss or sandstone. 

While sounding near the Abi'olhos we made a great num- 
ber of experiments with Massey's lead, in order to verify its 
qualities ; and found it agree remarkably well with the com- 
mon lead, while in less than forty fathoms, but differ from 
it frequently when the depth of water exceeded seventy 
fathoms ; and wholly fail when used in upwards of one hun- 
dred and twenty fathoms. The failure, in great depths, was in 
consequence of the small hollow cylinder, to which the vanes 
were attached, bursting, or rather, being compressed by the 
weight of water. Some more remarks upon this instrument 
will be found in the Appendix. 

We anchored near the islets, at dusk, on the 28th, after 
being in frequent anxiety, owing to sudden changes in the 


depth of water; and next morning, moved to a better berth 
at the west side, very near them. They are rather low, but 
covered with grass, and there is a little scattered brushwood. 
The highest point rises to about a hundred feet above the 
sea. Their geological formation, Mr. Darwin told me, is of 
gneiss and sandstone, in horizontal strata. When our boats 
landed, immense flights of birds rose simultaneously, and 
darkened the air. It was the breeding and moulting season ; 
nests full of eggs, or young unfledged birds, absolutely covered 
the ground, and in a very short time our boats were laden with 
their contents. 

A large black bird, with a pouch like that of a pelican, but 
of a bright red colour, was very remarkable, as it hovered, or 
darted ainono- the bright verdure, and at a distance looked 
handsome ; but when seen close, it at once descended to the 
level of a carrion-eatinjj cormorant or buzzard. 

Turtle are to be found at times : we observed the shell and 
skeleton of an extremely large one lying on a sandy spot at 
the north side of the northern islet. Some very line fish, of the 
cod kind, were caught ; one was so large, that, until hauled 
on board, it was supposed to be a shark. The anchorage is 
good, and easy of access: all swell is stopped by the shal- 
low places, and by the islets themselves. There is no fresh 

If a general reader should honour these pages by his 
perusal, and find such details about wood, water, fish, birds, 
&c., at places about which few know, and still fewer care — 
extremely tiresome, he will of course pass them over ; but, 
in my own exculpation, I must beg to be permitted to remind 
him that the Beagle was employed by Government, to obtain 
practical information likely to be useful to shipping ; and that 
I might neglect my duty by omitting to mention such matters, 
when speaking of places which are seldom visited, and hitherto 
but slightly known. 

By those employed in the coasting trade, the Abrolhos 
are said to be particularly subject to squalls. If this be true, 
what is the reason ? Have the extensive shallows in their 



vicinity any connection with the fact ? Thinking myself that 
they have, I would beg the reader to bear this idea in mind, 
when, at another part of this narrative, the squalls so fre- 
quent in the dangerous archipelago of the low islands are 

March 30th. We sailed and sounded in various directions, 
but such irregular depths I never found elsewhere. Sudden 
jumps, from thirty to ten, sometimes even to four fathoms, 
in successive casts of the hand-lead, gave us frequent alarm ; 
but by keeping a boat a-head, and two leads going briskly, we 
avoided danger, and giving up exploring, regained before dark 
the safe channel which runs north and south between the 
Abrolhos and the main land, and steered to pass near Cape 
San Tome, or St, Thomas. Next day we were off that cape, 
but saw none of the breakers which have been so frequently 
reported to lie at a dangerous distance from the neighbouring 
shore ; although we looked out for them, and steered so as to 
pass the places where I was informed they would be seen. 

On the 3d of April, we passed Cape Frio. I wished to 
visit the cove in which the Lightning and Algerine lay, while 
recovering the treasure sunk in the unfortunate Thetis, but 
circumstances were unfavourable. 

* The Bermuda Islands (" still vexed Bennoothes") may also be 
thought of, as being similarl}' circumstanced. 


Loss of the Thetis— Causes of her wreck — Approach to Rio de Janeiro 
— Owen Glendower — Disturbance in Rio Harbour — Observations — 
Chronometers — Return to Bahia — Deaths — Macacu — Malaria — 
Return to Rio de Janeiro — Meridian Distances — Regatta — Fuegians 
— Lightning — Leave Rio — Equipment — Santa Martha — Weather — 
Santa Catharina — Santos — River Plata — Pamperoes — Gales off Buenos 
Ayres — Monte Video — Point Piedras — Cape San Antonio — River 
Plata — Currents — Tides — Barometer — Absence of trees — Cattle. 

Among the shipwrecks which have taken place during late 
years, perhaps none excited so much astonishment, or caused 
so much trouble and discussion, as the loss of that fine frigate 
the Thetis. 

Had any seaman been asked, on what frequented shore there 
was least probability of a wreck, I almost think he would 
have answered on that of Cape Frio. Yet, against the high 
cliflPs of that bold and well-known coast did she run ' stem 
on,' going nine knots. One may conceive the shock and 
general consternation as she crashed against the rocky cliff, 
and all her masts fell inboard. 

As some who turn over these pages may not have read the 
proceedings of the Court-martial held after the return of her 
officei-s to England, I will insert a short account, derived 
chiefly from those of old friends and shipmates, who were on 
board her at the awful time of Iter wreck. 

The Thetis sailed from Rio de Janeiro on the 4th of Decem- 
ber 1830, and worked to the southward all day, against a 
southerly wind and thick foggy weatlier. At Ih. 30m. a.m. 
on the 5th, she saw Raza Island for the last time, bearing N.W. 
by W., and distant eight or nine miles. The weather was 
still hazy, indeed at times very thick, and the wind south- 
east. She stood off on the larboard tack until seven a.m., 
and then the wind having increased, and a cross sea getting 
up, she wore to the eastward. Soon afterwards the wind 
drew to SS.E., and the ship was kept by the wind on the 

F 2 

68 LOSS OF THE THETIS. December 

starboard tack until Ih. 30m. p.m., when it was considered 
that Cape Frio bore about N. 40° E., distant thirty-eight 
miles. The position at noon, by dead reckoning, gave the 
Cape bearing N. 43. E., distant forty-one miles ; all the cal- 
culations giving results between that and N. 51. E., fifty-three 
miles ; but by dead reckoning only, as neither sun, moon, or 
stars had been seen. At Ih. 30m. the wind being scant, the 
ship was steered E. by N., and at two, a cross sea checking her 
way through the water, the course was altered to E.N. E. At 
two, when the course was thus changed, she had run nineteen 
miles since noon, and at four, twenty more miles had been 
made on the E.N.E. course ; at which time, four p.m. (under 
the idea that she was almost abreast of Cape Frio, supposed to 
be then distant about twenty-four miles), seeing a large ship, 
' courses down,' in-shore of her, steering west or W. by N., 
with all sail set ; and the weather clearing, for an interval, 
without any land being seen ; it was concluded that the Thetis 
was still further from the shore than had been estimated, and 
her course was altered to N.E. by E. At five, the crew was 
mustered at quarters, after which the reefs were mended, and 
the fore top-gallant sail, jibs, spanker, and reefed fore top- 
mast studding-sail were set. From four o'clock to six she ran, 
by log, twenty-one miles ; after six the weather became very 
thick and rainy : and when the look-out men were relieved at 
eight o'clock, it was so dark, and rained so fast, that nothing- 
could be distinguished half a ship's length distant. Soon after 
eight one of the look-out men, named Robinson, said to ano- 
ther man on the forecastle,* " Look how fast that squall is 
coming" (this was the cliff looming indistinctly through the 
rain and darkness), and next moment, " Landa-head," "Hard 
a-port," rung in the ears of the startled crew, and were echoed 
terribly by the crashing bowsprit, and thundering fall of the 
ponderous masts. 

The hull did not then strike the rocks, having answered 
the helm so fast as to be turning off shore when the bowsprit 

• Borsworthick. Both these men afterwards sailed with me in the 


broke ; but the lee yard-arm irons (boom-irons) actually struck 
fire from the rocky precipice as they grated hai'shly against it, 
the boom ends snapping off like icicles. 

All three masts fell aft and inward, strewing the deck with 
killed and wounded men. An immense black barrier impended 
horribly, against which heavy breakers were dashing with an 
ominous sound ; but the ship's hull was still uninjured. Sen- 
tries were placed over tlie spirit-room ; a sail was hoisted upon 
the stump of the main-mast ; the winches were manned ; guns 
fired ; rockets sent up, and blue-lights burned ; the quarter- 
boats were cleared away to be ready for lowering ; and an 
anchor was let go ; but the water was so deep, that before she 
brought up, her stern drifted upon a more shelving part of the 
rock. Several men then tried to land ; but, in jumping ashore, 
many slipped, and were drowned in the surf, or crushed 
against the rocks. The stern and lee quarter boats were dashed 
to pieces, as the surf hove the ship against the cliff, and no 
boat was then available ; for the others were either stove, or so 
covered with wreck, that they could not be used. Finding that 
the anchor, which had been let go, did no good, but seemed 
to keep her tailing upon the rocks, the cable was slipped, after 
which her head fell off to the westward. It was then found 
that the water was gaining, and the winches were worked. 
Successive waves threw her starboard quarter upon the rocks ; 
and the effects of repeatedly striking were soon but too appa- 
rent, as the water burst open the spirit-room hatches. 

At this moment a small opening appeared, into which the 
ship providentially drove. It was at first thought that this 
was the opening into Cape Frio Harbour ; but it proved to be 
only a very small cove, or indentation of the rocky cliffs. While 
drifting close along the rocks into this cove, a hawser was 
passed ashore, by which afterwards several persons landed. 
The ship struck heavily in the cove, gave some tremendous 
yawns, and simk. As she then lay upon the rocky bottom, 
each succeeding wave broke over and just covered her. By a 
violent surge, the rock to which the hawser above-mentioned 
had been made fast, was torn away ; and, for a short time, all 


hope of further communication with the land was suspended. 
Every effort that could be made to convey a rope to the shore 
was attempted in vain, until Mr. Geach, the boatswain, went 
out on the stump of the bowsprit, and by the help of two 
belaying-pins, succeeded in throwing the end of a small rope 
to the rocks, by which a large one was immediately hauled 
ashore, and then kept as much stretched as the strength of the 
men wlio had landed would allow. On this larger rope each 
man was slung, in his turn, and hauled by the small one 
through the surf to a rough craggy rock. Mr. Geach and 
John Langley, the captain of the forecastle, were among the 
last to leave the ship, having almost exhausted themselves in 
slinging their shipmates. 

As day-light broke, the last man was hauled ashore. Many 
were terribly bruised and lacerated by the fall of the masts, or 
during these struggles for life, and twenty-five persons perished. 
Some of the officers made their way to a small village near 
Cape Frio, and obtained horses, and a guide who conducted 
them to Rio de Janeiro, where the melancholy news was com- 
municated to the commander-in-chief. The captain, the other 
officers, and the crew, remained near the place of the wreck, 
waiting for assistance. 

An adequate cause for so great an error in the reckoning of 
only nineteen hours as that which occasioned the loss of this 
fine ship and twenty-five souls, besides the personal property of 
those on board, and a large freight of treasure, is not difficult 
to find, even without supposing the compasses to have been in 
error, or affected by local attraction, which, by the way, would 
in this case have operated in the ship''s favour. 

The vicinity of Cape Frio, one of the most salient promon- 
tories on the coast of Brazil, cannot be supposed exempt from 
currents ; set in motion either by temporary causes, such as 
strong or lasting winds ; or by the varying pressure of the 
atmosphere upon different portions of the ocean : — or from 
tidal streams, more or less strong. 

1830. ' LOSS OF THE THETIS. 71 

Presuming that the Thetis was carried out of her supposed 
position, by the former cause, about twenty-four miles ; surely 
rather more than a mile an hour is no surprising current during 
nineteen hours. But if a stream of tide also affected her, in 
that time she would have had one whole tide either in her 
favour or against her. 

There was no reason to suspect the existence of much cur- 
rent near Cape Frio, when the Thetis was lost, except on such 
general grounds as those just mentioned, because no pilot, as 
far as I know, was aware of such a fact. With strong southerly 
winds ships of large size do not often leave Rio de Janeiro — 
coasting vessels never — therefore few persons could have expe- 
rienced its effect when sailing from the port; and when 
approaching Rio in similar weather, vessels sail before a fair 
wind, steer by sight of the land, and take little notice of the 
log : besides which, they then employ but three or four hours 
in passing through that space of sea where the Thetis was 
detained nineteen. 

In all probability, such a current as that which drove the 
Thetis on the rocks is only to be found during southerly winds, 
and in the summer season of that climate, when the general set 
of the current is along the coast, towards the south and west. 

If' a man of war is accidentally lost, a degree of asto- 
nishment is expressed at the unexpected fate of a fine ship, 
well found, well manned, and well officered ; and blame is 
imputed to some one : but before admitting a hastily-formed 
opinion as fact, much inquiry is necessary. As in the case 
of the Thetis, an English man-of-war may incur risk in con- 
sequence of a praiseworthy zeal to avoid delaying in port, 
as a merchant-ship would probably be obliged to do, from her 
being unable to beat out against an adverse wind, and, like 
that frigate, may be the first to prove the existence of an 
unsuspected danger. 

Those who never run any risk ; who sail only when the wind 
is fair ; who heave to when approaching land, though perhaps 
a day's sail distant ; and who even delay tlie performance of 
urgent duties until they can be done easily and quite safely ; are. 


doubtless, extremely prudent persons: — but rather unlike 
those officers whose names will never be forgotten while Eng- 
land has a navy. 

Of the measures taken for recovering the treasure sunk in 
the Thetis, much has appeared in print ; therefore I will not 
add a word to that subject of controversy. 

Weather such as that which caused the loss of the Thetis, 
is only at times met with off Cape Frio ; a clear sky, with a 
hot sun, and but little wind, is more usual ; and as my first 
approach to Rio de Janeiro, on board H.M.S. Owen Glen- 
dower, in 1819, made much impression upon me, I will endea- 
vour to describe ifs circumstances. 

High blue mountains were seen in the west, just after the 
sun had set, and with a fair wind we approached the land 
rapidly. The sea was quite smooth, but a freshening breeze 
upon our quarter carried us on, nearly thirteen knots an hour. 
Though dark as any cloudy tropical night, when neither 
uioon nor star relieves the intense blackness — astern of us 
•\vas a long and perfectly straight line of sparkling light, 
caused by the ship's rapid way through the water ; and around 
the bows, as far forward as the bowsprit end, was dazzling 
foam, by whose light I read a page of common print. Sheet 
lightning played incessantly near the western horizon : and 
sometimes the whole surface of the sea seemed to be illuminated. 
As the moon rose, and the breeze decreased, the contrasts of 
light and darkness, of swift change of place and apparent tran- 
quillity, lost their effect. Next morning we had a dead calm : 
high land towered over the fog-banks, which were slowly 
drawn upwards and dispersed by the heat of a powerful sun ; 
and the sea was smooth as a lake. Numbers of that beautiful 
fish, the dorado, often called a dolphin, were caught ; and the 
vivid, various colours displayed, as they lay upon our deck, 
exceeded description. Well I remember too the trouble we 
middies had with the sun at noon on that day ; not with the sun 
above our heads, but with its image reflected by our quadrants. 
As he was almost vertical over us, we were dispersed round the 
ship, each thinking he had brought the reflected image down 

1819 — 32. RIO DE JANEIKO. 73 

to the proper point of the horizon, until, startled by hearing 
' twelve o'clock,' reported by the master, we found too late, and 
much to our annoyance, that it would have been wiser to have 
looked at the compass before observing the altitude. 

Soon after mid-day black curling ripples stole along the 
hitherto glassy surface ; sail was made, the sea-breeze fresh- 
ened, and we steered towards the entrance of that magnificent 
harbour, Rio de Janeiro. 

Often as it has been visited and described, I cannot expect 
any one to require another sketch, but will merely remark 
that I know no port ecfual to it in situation, security, capacity, 
convenience, and abundant supply of every necessary, as well 
as in picturesque beauty. A day or two after the Owen Glen- 
dower anchored, a party of her midshipmen were allowed to 
take a boat and enjoy a day's excursion in the beautiful har- 
bour, or rather gulf. We landed on an island, which seemed 
to me like an immense hot-bed, so luxuriant and aromatic 
were the shrubs, and so exotical the appearance of every tree 
and flower. Years since elapsed have not in the least dimi- 
nished my recollection of the novelty and charm of that first 
view of tropical vegetation. 

To return to the Beagle. On the 3d we were near Raza 
Island, but detained by calms. The light-house lately erected 
there showed a bright revolving, or rather intermitting light. 
On the following day, when the sea-breeze set in, we steered 
for the harbour. The sun shone brightly, and there were 
enough passing clouds to throw frequent shadows over the 
wooded heights and across vallies, where, at other times, the 
brightest tints of varied green were conspicuous : yet I did 
not think the place half so beautiful as formerly. The charm 
of novelty being gone, and having anticipated too much, were 
perhaps the causes ; and it is possible that so much wood has 
been cleared away in late years, as to have diminished sensibly 
the rich and picturesque appearance which it certainly once 

As we shortened sail under the stern of our flag-ship, I was 
surprised by finding Sir Thomas Baker, the Commander-in- 

74 mo DE JANEIRO. April 

chief, giving directions for the positions to be taken forthwitli 
by the ships of his squadron then present, and orders for the 
boats to be prepared for landing marines. This was in conse- 
quence of one of those disturbances almost usual in South 
America, especially in Brazil. Some outrages had been com- 
mitted in the town, and a mutiny had broken out among the 
troops. Under old and established governments, revolt and 
mutiny are events which so seldom occur that their shock is 
not only felt at the time, but transmits vibrations through suc- 
ceeding ages. In these unsettled states, however, they recur so 
frequently, that even on the spot they cause little sensation, and 
excepting by those personally concerned, are scarcely remem- 
bered afterwards. 

Few strangers visit the metropolis of Brazil without being 
disappointed, if not disgusted. Numbers of almost naked 
negroes, hastening along narrow streets — offensive sights and 
smells, an uncivil and ill -looking native population — indis- 
pose one to be pleased, even with novelty ; but impressions 
such as these soon wear off. In the environs of the city are 
many good houses, in beautiful situations ; and while enjoying 
delightful rides amidst the richest and most varied scenery, or 
resting in the shade of a veranda, refreshed by the sea-breeze, 
and overlooking a prospect hardly to be surpassed in the world 
the annoyances and the nuisances of the town are forgotten. 

With respect to astronomical observations, I was extremely 
unfortunate at Rio de Janeiro, except in those simple ones for 
time and latitude, which depend upon sextants and artificial 
horizons. Being the rainy season, but few nights were favour- 
able for observing the transits of stars with the moon, and 
those few were too near the full moon to be available. But had 
the weather been otherwise, I doubt whether I should have 
obtained satisfactory results, because the transit instrument 
employed was of an inferior construction, and still more, 
because I was unaccustomed to its use. So much time was 
employed, to the prejudice of other duties, in adjusting and 
rc-adjusting this imperfect instrument, and ineffectually watch- 
ing for intervals of clear sky, that I resolved to set up the transit 


no more, until I had an interval of leisure, and a prospect of 
some cloudless nights. 

Having so many good chronometers on board ; being prac- 
tised in observations such as they require ; and placing great 
confidence in their results ; I felt inclined to give attention 
and time to them rather than to perplex myself, and cause 
much delay in moving from place to place, by attempting 
series of observations which would give occupation to an astro- 
nomer, and could not be undertaken by me, while actively 
engaged in coast-survey, without interfering with other duties. 
In the Appendix it may be seen how far results obtained by 
the chronometers agree with those of a higher class, especially 
with the recent ones of Captain Beechey, to whose determina- 
tions, resulting from moon-culminating observations, I con- 
clude that a high value will be attached, because he is a well- 
practised and able observer. 

As I found that a difference, exceeding four miles of 
longitude, existed between the meridian distance from Bahia 
to Rio, determined by the French expedition under Baron 
Roussin, and that measured by the Beagle ; yet was unable 
to detect any mistake or oversight on my part ; I resolved to 
return to Bahia, and ascertain whether the Beagle's measure- 
ment was incorrect. Such a step was not warranted by my 
instructions ; but I trusted to the Hydrographer for appre- 
ciating my motives, and explaining them to the Lords of the 
Admiralty. In a letter to Captain Beaufort, I said, " I have not 
the least doubt of our measurement from Bahia; but do not think 
that any other person would rely on this one measure only, 
differing widely, as it does, from that of a high authority — the 
Baron Roussin. By repeating it, if it should be verified, more 
weight will be given to other measures made by the same 
instruments and observers." 

We sailed with the ebb-tide and sea-breeze, cleared the port 
before the land-wind rose, and when it sprung up steered along 
the coast towards Cape Frio. Most persons prefer sailing from 
Rio early in the morning, with the land-wind ; but to any 
well-manned vessel, there is no difficulty whatever in working 


out of the port during a fresh sea-breeze, unless the flood-tide 
should be running in strongly. 

On this passage one of our seamen died of a fever, contracted 
when absent from the Beagle with several of her officers, on an 
excursion to the interio]- part of the extensive harbour of 
Rio de Janeiro. One of the ship's boys, who was in the same 
party, lay dangerously ill, and young Musters seemed destined 
to be another victim to this deadly fever. 

It was while tlie interior of the Beagle was being painted, 
and no duty going on except at the little observatory on Ville- 
gagnon Island, that those officers who could be spared made 
this excursion to various parts of the harbour. Among other 
places they were in the river Macacu, and passed a night there. 
No effect was visible at the time ; the party returned in apparent 
health, and in high spirits ; but two days had not elapsed when 
the seaman, named IVIorgan, complained of headach and fever. 

The boy Jones and Mr. Musters were taken ill, soon after- 
wards, in a similar manner ; but no serious consequences were 
then apprehended, and it was thought that a change of air 
would restore them to health. Vain idea ! they gradually be- 
came worse ; the boy died the day after our arrival in Bahia ; 
and, on the 19th of May, my poor little friend Charles Musters, 
who had been entrusted by his father to my care, and was a 
favourite with every one, ended his short career. 

My chief object in now mentioning these melancholy facts is 
to warn the few who are not more experienced than I was at that 
time, how very dangerous the vicinity of rivers may be in hot 
climates. Upon making more inquiry respecting tliose streams 
which run into the great basin of Rio de Janeiro, I found 
that the Macacu was notorious among the natives as being 
often the site of pestilential malaria, fatal even to themselves. 
How the rest of our party escaped, I know not ; for they were 
eleven or twelve in number, and occupied a day and night in 
the river. When they left the ship it was not intended that 
they should go up any river ; the object of their excursion 
being to visit some of the beautiful islets which stud the har- 
bour. None of us were aware, hoAvever, that there was so 

May 1832. macacu — malaria. 77 

daiio-erous a place as the fatal Macacu within reach. I ques- 
tioned every one of the party, especially the second lieutenant 
and master, as to what the three who perished had done dif- 
ferent from the rest ; and discovered that it was believed they 
had bathed during the heat of the day, against positive orders, 
and unseen by their companions ; and that Morgan had slept 
in the open air, outside the tent, the night they passed 
on the bank of the Macacu. 

As far as I am aware, the risk, in cases such as these, is 
chiefly encountered by sleeping on shore, exposed to the air on 
or near the low banks of rivers, in woody or marshy places 
subject to great solar heat. Those who sleep in boats, or under 
tents, suffer less than persons sleeping on shore and exposed ; 
but they are not always exempt, as the murderous mortalities 
on the coast of Africa prove. Whether the cause of disease is 
a vapour, or gas, formed at night in such situations, or only a 
check to perspiration when the body is peculiarly affected by 
the heat of the chmate, are questions not easy to answer, if I 
may judge from the difficulty I have found in obtaining any 
satisfactory information on the subject. One or two remarks 
may be made here, perhaps. — The danger appears to be incurred 
while sleeping ; or when over- heated ; not while awake and 
moderately cool ; therefore we may infer that a check to the 
perspiration which takes place at those times is to be guarded 
against, rather than the breathing of any peculiar gas, or air, 
rising from the rivers or hanging over the land, which might 
have as much effect upon a person awake, as upon a sleeper. 
Also, to prevent being chilled by night damp, and cold, as 
well as to purify the air, if vapour or gas should indeed be the 
cause of fever, it is advisable to keep a large fire burning while 
the sun is below the horizon. But the subject of malaria has 
been so fully discussed by medical men, that even this short 
digression is unnecessary. 

To return to the narrative. Mr. Bynoe consulted with the 
best medical advisers at Bahia,and afterwards at Rio de Janeiro, 
and he and I had the melancholy satisfaction of knowing that 
the best had been done for his patients. 


The affectionate kindness of Mr. Bynoe on this, and indeed 
every occasion where his skill and attention were required, 
will never be forgotten by any of his shipmates. 

In our passage from Rio de Janeiro to Bahia, we passed be- 
tween the Abrolhos Islands and the main land, having a fresh 
southerly wind, and cloudy weather, with frequent rain. Of 
course there was some anxiety until we saw the islands, and it 
was necessary to keep the lead constantly going ; but we got 
into no difficulty, and, assisted by Massey''s log, as well as 
Massey's lead, we made a short passage, without an hour's delay 
or scant wind. This was favourable for the chronometer mea- 
surement, and I was deeply gratified by finding, soon after our 
arrival, that the measure from Rio to Bahia confirmed that 
previously made, even to a second of time. 

On the 23d of May, we sailed the second time from 
Bahia, and steered to pass as near as possible to the eastern 
side of the Abrolhos ; but, owing to unfavourable winds, 
could not approacli neax-er to them than in fourteen fathoms 

When examining many of the cases of preserved meat* with 
which the Admiralty had ordered us to be provided, we found 
that several had burst and caused a most disagreeable smell. 
This was not the fault of the tin cases, but an unavoidable 
accident consequent upon their being stowed where salt water 
had occasional access, and corroded the tin. In so small and 
so crammed a hold as ours, it was not easy to make stowage 
for every thing that ought to be kept dry, particularly with 
a hatch-deck, while rolling about in the Bay of Biscay ; but 
being warned by this first appearance of decay, our internal 
arrangement was partly changed, and some of the hatches on 
the lower deck temporarily caulked down. 

Delayed by southerly winds and a long heavy swell from 
the southward, we made rather a tedious passage back to Rio, 
and did not anchor until the night of the 3d of June. 

Next day (4th) the usual sets of equal altitudes were 
observed ; and after the chronometer rates were ascertained, I 
* Prepared by Kilner and Moorsom. 

June 1832. meridian distances — regatta. 79 

had the satisfaction of finding that this third meridian distance 
agreed exactly with the first and second. Upon further exami- 
nation, it was seen that the Abrolhos Islands were laid down 
correctly in the French chart, with respect to Bahia ; but that 
the meridian distance between those islands and Rio de Janeiro 
differed more than four miles from that resulting from three 
measures made by our twenty chronometers. 

A few weeks afterwards all the data and results of these 
measurements were given to the French Commander-in-chief on 
the station, who promised to forward them to the Baron Rous- 
sin ; but I have heard nothing of their having been received. 
Even those who are disposed to place little reliance on the 
performance of chronometers, and who doubt the accuracy of 
distances measured by the transport of time, might be interested 
by a glance at the particulars of these meridian distances, which 
are given in the Appendix. They much increased my own 
confidence in that simple method of ascertaming differences of 
longitude, and tended to determine my dependence upon a 
connected chain of meridian distances, in preference to any 
other mode of finding the precise longitude. 

While watering, and rating the chronometers, a few compa- 
ratively leisure days afforded a seasonable opportunity for try- 
ing the quahties of boats, and exciting fair emulation among 
their crews. With the Commander-in-chiefs permission, and 
the encouragement of the officers of his squadron, then in the 
port, some good boat-races were arranged ; and knowing how 
much might afterwards depend upon thequalities of the Beagle's 
boats, it was very gratifying to find them excellent. Four of 
the set were built by Mr. Johns, the well-known boat-builder 
in Plymouth Dock-yard, and the other two by Mr. May, our 
carpenter. Captain Talbot, of the Warspite, and Captain 
Waldegrave, of the Seringapatam, tried their best boats and 
best men on two successive days, to the encouragement of the 
boats' crews and boat-sailers of the squadron, and much to the 
surprise of the Brazilians, who had never witnessed any thing 
like a regatta. 

From our first arrival at Rio de Janeiro, until we were 


ready to leave, finally, in July, little Fuegia was staying on 
shore, at the house of an Englishwoman, near Botalbgo bay ; 
and it is worth noticing, that while there, she was supposed by 
strangers to be one of the aboriginal natives of Brazil : and 
that I went with York and Jemmy to see a person (who 
had been many years resident in the interior of Brazil) who 
remarked, directly he saw them, " they are extremely like the 
Brazilian aborigines !" 

At this time of year (July) the climate of Rio is compara- 
tively cool and pleasant. Cloudy skies, southerly winds, and 
rain, are frequent ; but there is less thunder and lightning than 
in summer, when not only thunder-storms occur often, but 
every night there is a continual flashing or reflection of light- 
ning over the distant Org-an mountains. 

Many ships and buildings have been struck, during late 
years, still there are but a very few protected by lightning 
conductors. I was a lieutenant on board the Thetis, when her 
foremast was shattered by lightning, in Rio Harbour, and 
shall not easily forget the sensation. Some of the officers were 
sitting in the gun-room, one very dark evening, while the hea- 
vens were absolutely black, and the air hot and close, to an 
oppressive degree, but not a drop of rain falling, when a 
rattling crash shook the ship. Some thought several guns had 
been fired together — others, that an explosion of powder had 
taken place ; but one said — " The ship is struck by lightning !" 
and that was the case. The top-gallant masts were not aloft ; 
but the fore-topmast was shivered into a mere collection of 
splinters ; the hoops on the foremast were burst, and the inte- 
rior, as well as outside of the mast, irreparably injured. From 
the foremast the electric fluid seemed to have escaped by some 
conductor, without doing further damage ; yet it filled the 
fore part of the sliip with a sulphureous smell, and the men 
who were there thought something full of gunpowder was 
blown up. 

No person received injury : the foremast was taken out 
afterwards, and replaced by another, purchased from the Brazi- 
lian government at a great expense, and made by the carpen- 



ters of the Thetis. I should say that the electric fluid shook 
rather than shattered the fore-topmast, for it did not fall, but 
resembled a bundle of long splinters, almost like reeds. It 
twisted round the head of the foremast, instead of descending 
by the shortest line, went into the centre of the spar, and then out 
again to the hoops, every one of which, above the deck, was burst 
asunder. The Thetis was to have sailed in a few days, but 
was detained by this accident almost two months. She had no 
conductor in use. 

Only two or three flashes of lightning were seen afterwai'ds ; 
they were accompanied by loud peals of thunder, and then 
heavy rain poured down. Just before the rain began, St. Elmo's 
fire was seen at each yard-arm, and at the mast-head. Those 
who have not seen this hght, always a favourite with sailors, 
because they say it only appears when the worst part of the 
storm is over, may excuse my saying that it resembles the 
light of a piece of phosphorus — not being so bright, or so small, 
as that of a glow-worm, nor yet so large as the flame of a 
small candle. I was curious enough to go out to a yard-arm 
and put my hand on a luminous spot ; but, of course, could 
feel nothing, and when I moved my hand the spot re- 
appeared. About the same time of the year in which this 
happened, the Heron corvette was struck by lightning, and 
damaged, while lying at anchor off" Buenos Ayres, in the river 
Plata, a locality extremely subject to vivid lightning, yet 
different in every respect from that of Rio de Janeiro : one 
being a flat, open country, near a fresh water river, and in 
latitude 34°; the other a mountainous and woody region, 
near the sea, and within the tropic of Capricorn. 

On the 5th of July we sailed from Rio de Janeiro, honoured 
by a salute, not of guns, but of hearty cheers from H.M.S. 
Warspite. Strict etiquette might have been offended at such 
a compliment to a httle ten-gun brig, or, indeed, to any 
vessel unless she were going out to meet an enemy, or were 
returning into port victorious: but although not about to 
encounter a foe, our lonely vessel was going to undertake a 
task laborious, and often dangerous, to the zealous execution 

VOL. u. G 


of which the encouragement of our brother- seamen was no 
triflmg inducement. 

While in harbour, a few alterations had been made in the 
disposition of our guns and stores, as well as some slight 
changes in the sails and rigging ; and as the Beagle^s equipment 
afterwards remained unaltered, I will here briefly describe it. 
She was rigged as a bark ; her masts were strongly supported 
by squarer cross-trees and tops, and by larger rigging than 
usual in vessels of her tonnage.* Chains were used where 
found to answer, and in no place was a block or a sheave 
allowed which did not admit the proper rope or chain freely. 
There were large trysails between the masts, made of stout 
canvas, with several reefs, and very useful we found them. On 
the forecastle was a six-pound boat-carronade : before the ches- 
tree were two brass six-pound guns : close to the bulwark on 
each side of tlie waist were the ' booms ;' and amidships two 
boats, on the diagonal principle, one stowed inside the other, 
and as close to thedeck as possible; being secured by iron cranks, 
or supports. Abaft the main-mast were four brass guns, two 
nine-pound, and two six-pound : the skylights were large ; there 
was no capstan ; over the wheel the poop-deck projected, 
and under it were cabins, extremely small, certainly, though 
filled in inverse proportion to their size. Below the upper 
deck her accommodations were similar to, though rather bet- 
ter than those of vessels of her class. Over the quarter- 
deck, upon skids, two whale-boats, eight-and-twenty feet long, 
were carried ; upon each quarter was a whale-boat twenty-five 
feet in length, and astern was a dinghy. 

A few leagues southward of the port is a good situation 
for enjoying a general view of the picturesque mountains in its 
vicinity. When near the shore one only sees those of an inferior 
order ; and it is not until an offing is gained that the bold and 
varied outlines of the distant Organ Mountain s,+ the sharp 

* Two huiwJred and forty-two tons. 

t So called because they have a number of pinnacles, somewhat like 
the pipes of an organ. 


peak of the Corcovado, and the singular heights over Tijuca, 
can be seen at once. Whimsical allusion has been made to the 
first Lord Hood in the name by which one of these heights 
is called by English sailors ; and in their general outline is a 
fancied resemblance to a huge giant lying on his back. 

Off Santa Martha, a sort of Cape Spartivento, near which 
one rarely passes without having a change of wind, if not a 
storm, we were detained by strong southerly gales, which 
raised a high sea. This extreme movement and delay I regret- 
ted much at the time, on account of the chronometers ; but the 
sequel shewed that such motion did not affect them materially, 
and that alterations of their rates were caused chiefly, if not 
entirely, by changes of temperature. 

Gales in the latitude of Santa Martha generally commence 
with north-westerly winds, thick cloudy weather, rain, and 
lightning. When at their height, the barometer begins to rise 
(having previously fallen considerably), soon after which the 
wind flies round, by the west, to south-west, and from that 
quarter usually blows very hard for several hours. But these, 
which are the ordinary gales, blow from, or along the land, and 
do not often raise such a sea as is sometimes found off this 
coast during a south-east storm. 

After a tiresome continuance of south-west winds, I became 
anxious to make Santa Catharina, but before we could reach 
it the wind changed, and enabled us to steer along the coast 
towards the south. Having mentioned Santa Catharina, I 
may as well add a few words to the many lavished in its praise 
by voyagers of all nations ; for it is, excepting Rio de Janeiro, 
and perhaps Bahia, the best trading port on the east coast 
of South America ; and, considering its situation, capa- 
bilities, and productions, is a place in which seamen must 
always have an interest. Tt enjoys the advantages of a tem- 
perate climate ; an extensive and accessible harbour ; a most 
fertile country, abounding in the necessaries of life ; and a mer- 
cantile position of much importance. The people are more 
inclined to exert themselves than those in northern Brazil; a 
difference arising partly, no doubt, from effect of climate; 



but chiefly from their having descended from active and enter- 
prising, though lawless settlers, who were ejected from other 
places ; and from a few respectable colonists induced to emi- 
grate from the Azores. Before I quit the neighbourhood of 
frequented ports on this coast, one possessing peculiar interest, 
Santos, ought to be mentioned ; to remind seamen that they 
may there also obtain any refreshments, and secure their ships 
in a sheltered creek, quite easy of access. For several leagues 
round Santos there is an extensive flat, covered with thick 
woods, but intersected by rivers and salt water inlets, whose 
banks are lined with thickets of mangrove trees. Inland a 
mountain range abruptly rises to the height of two or three 
thousand feet, every where clothed with almost impenetrable 
forests. The climate is, however, unhealthy in December, 
January, and February ; and during the whole year there is 
a great deal of rain. 

Returning to the coast southward of Santa Catharina, I may 
mention that Cape Santa Martha, and the shores extending 
northward of it, are high and woody, like the greater part of 
the coast of Brazil ; but that on the south side of the promon- 
tory there is a complete change of character : lofty ranges of 
mountains sinking into low treeless shores, whose outline is as 
tame and unvai*ying as that of the former is bold and pic- 

While sailing along the level uninteresting coast just men- 
tioned, with a fresh breeze off" the land, we found it bitterly 
cold, though the thermometer never was below 40°. Faht : so 
much does our perception of heat or cold depend upon com- 
parison. Some of our exaggerated opinions as to the coldness 
of the southern hemisphere may have arisen from the circum- 
stances under which voyagers usually visit high southern lati- 
tudes, immediately after enduring the heat of the tropics, and 
without staying long enough to ascertain the real average tem- 
perature during a whole year. 

On the 22d of July we were near the river Plata, and as the 
weather, after sunset, became very dark, with thunder and 
lightning, though with but little wind, we anchored in the 


vicinity of Cape Sta Maria to avoid being drifted about by irre- 
gular currents. For upwards of an hour St. Elmo fires were 
seen at each mast-head, and at some of the yard-arms : the 
mast-head vane also, fixed horizontally, and framed with cop- 
per, had an illuminated border round it. Heavy rain, much 
thunder, and a fresh southerly wind followed ; but as we were 
prepared for bad weather, and the sea did not rise much, we 
maintained our position till daylight next morning, notwith- 
standing an officer of the watch startling me by reporting that 
we must be very near the land, because he heard bullocks 

On the 23d we entered the great estuary of this shallow 
though wide river, a hundred and twenty miles across at this 
part, yet averaging less than ten fathoms in depth ; and above 
fifty miles wide between Monte Video and the opposite point, 
called Piedras, where the average depth is not more than three 
fathoms. Very great care is required by vessels navigating 
the Plata, because of its exceedingly dangerous shoals, its 
strong and irregular currents, and the sudden temjiests to which 
it is subject. The shoals and currents may be guarded against 
by a very careful attention to the lead, and a ground-log ; but 
the fury of a violent pampero-|- must be endui'ed. The land on 
each side of the Plata is so low, and those extraordinary plains 
called pampas, hundreds of miles in extent, are so perfectly 
free from a single obstacle which might offer any check to the 
storm, that a pampero sweeps over land and water with the 
weight of a rushing hurricane. Captain King has already de- 
scribed one, by which the Beagle suffered severely, in 1829 ;+ 
but having, to my sorrow, been more immediately concerned, 
I will endeavour to give a brief account of that disastrous 
affair, as a warning to others. 

On the 30th of January 1829, the Beagle was standing in, 

* These noises must have been the discordant ' braying' of the bird 
called by seamen 'jack-ass penpfuin.' 

t So called because it appears to come from the vast plains called 
' pampas.' 

J Vol. i. pp. 189, VM, 101. 


from sea, towards the harbour of Maldonado. Before mid-day 
the breeze was fresh from N.N.W., but after noon it became 
moderate, and there was a gloominess, and a close sultry feel- 
ing, which seemed to presage thunder and rain. I shovdd men- 
tion that during three preceding nights banks of clouds had 
been noticed near the south-west horizon, over which there was 
a frequent reflection of very distant lightning. 

The barometer had been falling since the 25th, slowly, but 
steadily, and on the 30th, at noon, it was at 29-4, and the ther- 
mometer 78°. I, and those with me, thought little about the 
fall of the mercury, and still less about the threatening aspect 
of the south-west horizon. " Heavy rain," I thought, " at night, 
will not signify when we are moored in Maldonado :" and there 
was then every prospect of our reaching that port before 

Having been often in the river Plata, and once for eight 
months successively, I had acquired a familiarity with the 
place, and a disregard for pamperoes, which was not surprising 
in a young man who had witnessed many, but certainly, as it 
happened, not one of so serious a nature as to cause any par- 
ticular impression on his mind. I had not then learned never 
to despise an enemy. 

At about three o'clock the wind was light, and veering about 
from north-west to north-east. There was a heavy bank of 
clouds in tlie south-west, and occasionally lightning was visible 
even in daylight. Myriads of insects, such as butterflies, 
dragon-flies, and moths, came off" from the land ; driven, as it 
appeared, by gusts of heated wind. At four the breeze fresh- 
ened up from N.N.W., and obliged us to take in all light 
sails. Maldonado Tower then bore west, and Lobos Island 
(centre) S.W.b.S. The weather became more unsettled and 
threatening, though still we had no expectation of any material 
change before night : but soon after five it became so dark 
towards the south-west, and the lightning increased so much, 
that we shortened sail to the reefed topsails and foresail ; still 
hoping to reach our destination before the pampero began. 
Shortly before six the upper clouds in the south-west quarter 


assumed a singularly hard, and rolled or tufted appearance, 
like great bales of black cotton, and altered their forms so 
rapidly, that I ordered sail to be shortened, and the topsails to 
be furled, leaving set only a small new foresail. The water was 
smooth, and, not being deep, there was none of that agitated 
swell usually noticed before a storm in the great ocean. 

Gusts of hot wind came oft' the nearest land, at intervals of 
about a minute. The fore-topsail was just furled, and the 
men down from aloft, the main-topsail in the gaskets, but the 
men still on the yard, when a furious blast from the north-west 
struck the ship. The helm was put up, and she paid off" fast ; 
yet the wind changed still more quickly, and blew so heavily 
from south-west, that the foresail split to ribands, and the 
ship was thrown almost on her beam-ends, and no longer 
answered her helm. The main-topsail was instantly blown 
loose out of the men's hands, whose lives were in imminent 
danger ; the fore-topsail blew adrift out of the gaskets ; the 
mainsail blew away out of the gear ; the lee hammock-netting 
was under water ; and the vessel apparently capsizing, when 
topmasts and jib-boom went, close to the caps, and she 
righted considerably. Both anchors were cut away (for the 
land was under our lee), and a cable veered upon each, which 
brought her head to wind, and upright. The heaviest rush of 
wind had then passed, but it was still blowing a hard gale, 
and the Beagle was pitching her forecastle into the short high 
waves which had risen. As the depth of water was small, and 
the ground tenacious clay, both anchors held firmly, and our 
utmost exertions were immediately directed towards clearing 
the wreck, and saving the remains of our broken spars and 
tattered sails. Had we suffered in no other way, I should have 
felt joy at having escaped so well, instead of the deep regret 
occasioned by the loss of two seamen, whose lives, it seemed, 
might have been spared to this day had I anchored and struck 
topmasts, instead of keeping under sail in hopes of entering 
Maldonado before the pampero began. 

When the main-topsail blew away from the men, who strug- 


gled hard to keep it fast, they could scarcely hold on, or get 
off the yard, and one young man fell from the lee yard-arm 
into the vsea. Poor fellow, he swam well, but in vain : the 
ship was unmanageable, almost overset, the weather quarter 
boat stove, and the lee one under water : a grating was thrown 
to him, and the life-buoy let go, but he was seen no more. 
Another man was supposed to have been carried overboard 
with the main-topmast, as he was last seen on the cap. 

The starboard quarter boat was stove by the force of the 
wind ; and the other was washed away : and so loud was the 
sound of the tempest, that I did not hear the masts break, 
though standing, or rather holding, by the mizen rigging. 
NeVer before or since that time have I witnessed such strength, 
or, I may say, weight of wind : thunder, lightning, hail, and 
rain, came with it, but they were hardly noticed in the presence 
of so formidable an accompaniment. 

After seven the clouds had almost all passed away ; the 
wind settled into a steady south-west gale, with a clear sky ; 
the barometer rose to 29.8, and the thermometer fell to 46°. 
Lobos Island was set S.E., bearino; distant two miles. 

In this pampero the masts of a vessel, at anchor off Monte 
Video, were carried away ; and the upper cabin bulkhead of a 
Brazilian corvette was blown in while lying at anchor, head to 
wind, with her masts struck. But Maldonado seemed to feel 
its utmost violence ; and there it certainly commenced like 
a whirlwind. A small boat, belonging to a poor man who 
carried fruit and vegetables to ships in the bay, was hauled 
ashore, just above high- water mark, and fastened, by a strong 
rope, to a large stone. After the storm it was found far from 
the beach, shattered to pieces, but still fast to the stone, 
which it had dragged along. Not many days after our disas- 
ter, while lying in Maldonado bay, repairing damages, another 
pampero assailed the Beagle ; but though it did her no injury, 
it blew the boat, stove by its predecessor, away from the place 
on shore where she was being repaired, and left no trace of her 


Singular fluctuations occur in the river Plata before and after 
these pamperoes.* For some days previously the river rises, 
and it is always higher than usual when the south-west wind 
begins : but, after a few hours, the water falls rapidly, and ves- 
sels are left aground : indeed instances have been known of the 
upper parts of the river, near Buenos Ayres, being so much 
emptied by strong south-westerly, or westerly winds, that men 
have rode several miles into its bed, to places where ships 
usually anchor. I have myself known the water fall, in the 
outer road, off Buenos Ayres, from six to two fathoms, in less 
than twelve hours, in a place where the usual depth was four 
fathoms. Such a change as this would not be thought remark- 
able where tides usually rise several fathoms ; but in the river 
Plata, where there is very little, if any, tide, where the width of 
the channel is so great in proportion to its depth, and the confin- 
ing boundaries are so low, and in many places easily overflowed, 
a variation of four fathoms cannot take place without causing 
great difficulties and destruction. In this particular instance,-|- 
a heavy gale from the eastward dammed up the river for 
some days ; and then changing, by the south, to the west- 
ward, emptied it again proportionably. Small craft were 
left literally scattered about the low country bordering on the 
river near Buenos Ayres, and many vessels never floated again. 
By that gale, which blew directly up the river, and raised a 
heavy sea, every vessel was driven ashore from the inner road 
of Buenos Ayres, except a schooner. Fourteen English mer- 
chant vessels lay high and dry upon the shore next day, most 
of them totally lost. The Owen Glendower, bearing the broad 
pendant of Sir Thomas Hardy, the Icarus brig, and two or 
three merchant vessels, anchored in the outer road, weathered 
it out with topmasts struck ; but all drove considerably, except 
the frigate, and she brought both anchors ahead, backed by 

• Although generally considered by strangers to refer solely to a squall, 
or storra, the term pampero is applied by the natives of the country to 
every south-westerly wind, whether moderate or a hurricane. 

t In the year 1820. • 

90 LOSS OF A BOAT. 1820-32. 

stream anchors with half a cable on each, and riding with a 
whole cable on each bower, in four fathoms water, over very 
soft tenacious ground. Part of her forecastle netting was 
washed away by the sea, though she was an excellent roadster, 
and at that time drawing a foot less water than usual. She also 
lost a boat in a manner so likely to be of future occurrence, 
that I will yet digress, in hopes of being useful, by relating 
the incident. 

Her barge, ably managed by an experienced seaman,* had 
tried to beat off from the town to the ship, during the com- 
mencement of the gale, but could get no farther than the 
leewardmost merchantman in the outer road. Astern of that 
vessel she was made fast by a strong hawser, and there rode 
out the gale admirably until the current began to set out of 
the river: when the boat was carried against the vessel, and 
knocked to pieces before any thing could be done to save 
her, as the sea was running high, and the wind still blowing 
a gale. The Druid frigate, when lying therej-f would have 
lost a boat in the same way, had it not been one of those 
excellent diagonal boats, built by Mr. Johns; for it was 
taken, by the strong weather current, under the ship's bot- 
tom, and kept striking there long enough to have broken 
any ordinary boat into a thousand pieces ; but nevertheless 
she appeared again with only her gunwales injured, the bottom 
being still perfectly sound. 

The Plata has been called by the Spaniarcjs ' El Infierno de 
los marineros ;' sufficient stress has not however been laid on 
the redeeming qualities which it possesses in having anchoring 
ground every where, and in soundings, whose nature tells 
whether you are approaching danger; as on and near the 
banks the bottom is hard ; while in the deeper water it is very 

I have remarked that before a continuance of southerly 
winds the water rises considerably in this river ; and I may 
* The first who took a steam-vessel to the West-Indies, 
t In 1832. 


add, that the reverse takes place under opposite circumstances. 
Some persons attribute this change of level to the horizontal 
action of wind ; but I am inclined to think it occasioned chiefly 
by vertical pressure of the atmosphere, increased, doubtless, 
during strong winds by their driving force. 

Before a pampero, the barometer continues to fall during 
several days, and invariably the water then rises. The gale 
commences, the barometer ceases falling and begins to rise, and 
very soon afterwards the level of the river is found to be sink- 
ing. For many following days the glass remains high, but the 
water continues to fall, and, generally speaking, the river is 
low while the mercury is steady and above the average height, 
which I should consider to be 29'9 inches. In the Plata I 
never saw the barometer higher than 30'3, nor lower than 
29'4<.* I will not delay here to speak of corresponding ele- 
vations or depressions of the ocean at other parts of the South 
American coast, and attempt to trace out the effects of gales in 
high latitudes, the space through which those winds extend, 
and whether they reach or affect places in a low or even middle 
latitude ; but leaving such inquiries for another place, take a 
few more glances at the vicinity of the Plata, and then con- 
tinue the narrative. 

Having already noticed the width and average shallowness 
of this immense river, and the lowness of its adjacent shores, I 
need only add, that on the northern side there is a sprinkling 
of hills, of a granitic structure, scattered amidst extensive 
plains, while on the south, or right bank, there is neither a 
hill, a rock, or even a stone. -|- So low is the land between 
Point Piedras and Cape San Antonio, that around the great 
bay, called Sanborombon, it is extremely difficult to say where 
the water ends, or the coast line begins. Each difference, of 

• In estimating weather, or force of wind, by the height of the mer- 
curial column, due regard should be had to the goodness of the 
instrument, as some barometers, used in ships, differ from others even 
tenths of an inch. 

+ Which has not been carried there by man, or by running water. 


even a foot, in the height of the water, makes a change of 
cables'lengths, if not of miles, in the position of the limiting line 
between water and land. In consequence it is very dangerous 
for ships to approach that shore ; and, although the bottom is 
in many places soft, often extremely deep mud, there are other 
spaces in which hard lumps of tosca* are found, almost as 
injurious to a ship's bottom as actual rock. I am not aware 
that there is any granite on the south side of the river Plata, 
near the shore ; and although the name ' Piedras"' would incline 
one to suppose there are rocks or stones near it, I could only 
jfind tosca. But towards the northern shore rocks are found, 
and the dangerous shoal called ' Banco Yngles,' is said to have 
a granitic foundation. The ridge, of which the English Bank 
is the north-west extremit}"^, extends eastward, inclining to the 
south, considerably beyond a line drawn from Cape Santa 
Maria to Cape San Antonio, and less than ten fathoms water 
may be found upon it out of sight of land. Northward of the 
ridge the deptli of water varies from ten to thirty fathoms over 
a very soft bottom of bluish mud ; and to the southward of it 
there are from twelve to three fathoms (diminishing as you 
approach San Antonio) over a softish bottom of brown or 
yellow muddy sand.f When it is considered that three very 
large rivers, besides a host of smaller streams, enter the ocean 
by the estuary whose more remarkable features we are noticing, 
that two of those rivers are flooded periodically by tropical 
rains,| and that very heavy gales assist in emptying or filling 
the shallow wide gulf, in which floods of fresh water contend 
against the volume of a powerful ocean ; not only will frequent 

* Tosca is a kind of hardened earth, rather than soft stone, about the 
consistence of slightly baked clay : it is of a dark brown colour, and 
varies in hardness from that which is almost stony, to the texture of a 
sound old cheese. 

t Near Cape San Antonio and Point Tuyu there is very soft mud. 

I The Paraguay rises so far northward, that (excepting a portage of 
three miles) a canoe may go from Monte Video to the mouth of the 


variations in depth be expected, as a natural consequence, but 
also strong and varying currents. Little or no tide has been 
hitherto noticed with any degree of accuracy in the estuary of 
the Plata ; but this anomaly may be more apparent than real : 
for where the depth of water is so fluctuating, and the currents 
are so variable, it is difficult to distinguish the precise effects 
of tides, except by a series of observations far longer than has 
yet been made. 

To say much of Maldonado village, the town of Monte 
Video, or the city of Buenos Ayres, would be to repeat an 
* oft-told tale.' The views attached to this volume will give a 
tolerably clear idea of a few striking peculiarities which are 
immediately noticed by the eye of a stranger ; and of the inha- 
bitants themselves I will only venture to say, upon my slight 
acquaintance with them, that although prejudiced by their 
erroneous ideas of freedom, and deficient in high principles, 
■they ai-e courteous and agreeable as mere acquaintances, kind 
to strangers, and extremely hospitable. 

It is well known that there are very few trees* on either bank 
of the Plata near its mouth, or on those immense plains, called 
pampas, excepting here and there an ' ombu,'-f- or some which 
have been planted near houses ; or a few copses of small trees 
(mostly peach) planted for fuel : but I have not heard any 
sufficient reason given for this scarcity of wood, in a country 
covered with a great depth of alluvial soil, and adjoining dis- 
tricts in which trees are abundant. The only second causes 
for such a peculiarity, which I can imagine, are the following: 
the nature of the soil, which may be unsuited to most trees, 
although very productive of grass and gigantic thistles : the 
furious storms which sweep along the level expanse, and would 
demolish tender, unprotected young trees : the general want of 
water, which in some years is so great as to become a severe 
•drought : and the numerous herds of wild cattle which range 

* The exceptions are so few, that one might almost say there are no 
trees which have not been planted. 
+ A kind of elder. 


over the plains, and eat up every leaf which retains any mois- 
ture during the dry heats of summer. Before there were herds 
of cattle, guanacoes ranged over the country, in great num- 
bers, as they now do to the southward of the river Negro, 
where I have seen them grazing in large companies, like flocks 
of sheep. During the droughts above-mentioned vast num- 
bers of cattle die for want of water, and perhaps this may be 
the principal reason why so few trees grow there naturally ; but 
it cannot be the only one, because they grow where planted, 
and partially sheltered, though not watered. 

Most people are aware of the scale upon which the cattle 
farms of the ' Banda Oriental' and ' Republica Argentina' were 
carried on : but the civil wars which have succeeded the steady 
government of Spain have broken up and ruined many of the 
largest establishments, where from one hundred to two hun- 
dred thousand head of cattle were owned by one man — where 
the annual increase was about thirty per cent — and where the 
animals were, generally speaking, slaughtered for their hides 
alone. What must be the natural fertility of a country, which, 
without the slightest assistance from man, can nourish such 
enormous multitudes of cattle, besides immense droves of 
horses and flocks of sheep, and yet, except near its few towns, 
appear almost destitute of inhabitants. 

To return to our little vessel — entering the Plata in 1832. 
Unfavourable winds, and currents setting out of the river, 
delayed our progress, and obliged us to anchor frequently. 
We arrived at Monte Video on the 26th, and lost no time 
in making observations for our chronometers, and preparing 
for surveying the coasts southward of Cape San Antonio : but 
as I found that it would be advisable to visit Buenos Ayres, 
in order to communicate with the Government, and obtain 
information, we sailed from Monte Video on the 31st, and two 
days afterwards anchored off" Buenos Ayres. There, however, 
we did not remain an hour ; for the misconduct of a Buenos 
Ayrean officer on board a vessel under their colours, and a 
vexatious regulation with respect to quarantine, decided my 



returning forthwith to Monte Video ; and commissioning a 
capable person to procure for me copies of some original charts, 
which I thought would be exceedingly useful, and which 
could only be obtained from the remains of hydrographical in- 
formation, collected by Spain, but kept in the archives of 
Buenos Ayres. The Beagle anchored again off Monte Video, 
on the 3d of August, and as soon as the circumstances which 
occasioned her return were made known to Captain G. W. 
Hamilton, commanding the Druid frigate, that ship sailed for 
Buenos Ayres. 

Scarcely had the Druid disappeared beneath the horizon, 
when the chief of the Monte Video police and the captain of 
the port came on board the Beagle to request assistance in 
preserving order in the town, and in preventing the aggres- 
sions of some mutinous negro soldiers. I was also requested 
by the Consul-general to afford the British residents any pro- 
tection in my power ; and understanding that their lives, as 
well as property, were endangered by the turbulent mutineers, 
who were more than a match for the few well-disposed soldiers 
left in the town, I landed with fifty well-armed men, and 
remained on shore, garrisoning the principal fort, and thus 
holding the mutineers in check, until more troops were brought 
in from the neighbouring country, by whom they were sur- 
rounded and reduced to subordination. The Beagle's crew 
were not on shore more than twenty-four hours, and were not 
called upon to act in any way ; but I was told by the principal 
persons whose lives and property were threatened, that the 
presence of those seamen certainly prevented bloodshed. 

Some days after this little interruption to our usual avo- 
cations, we sailed across the river to Point Piedras, anchored 
there for some hours to determine its position, then went to 
Cape San Antonio, and from that point (rather than cape) 
began our survey of the outer coast. To relate many details of 
so slow and monotonous an occupation as examining any shore^ 
of which the more interesting features have long been known, 
could answer no good purpose, and would be very tiresome to 

96 PLAN OF WRITING. 1832. 

a general reader ; therefore I shall hasten from one place to 
another, dwelling only, in my way, upon the few incidents, or 
reflections, which may have interest enough to warrant their 
being noticed in this abridged narrative, or are absolutely 
necessary for cari'ying on the thread of the story. 


Eastern Pampa Coast — Point Medanos — Mar-chiquito — Ranges of Hills 
— Direction of Inlets, Shoals, and Rivers — Cape Corrientes — Tosca 
Coast — Blanco Bay — Mount Hermoso — Port Belgrano — Mr. Harris — 
Ventana Mountain — View — Argentina — Commandant — Major — Situ- 
ation — Toriano — Indians — Fossils — Animals — Fish — Climate — 
Pumice — Ashes — Conway — Deliberations — Consequent Decision — 
Responsibility incurred — Paz — Liebre — Gale — Hunger — Fossils at 
Hermoso — Fossils at Point Alta — Express sent to Buenos Ayres — 
Suspicions and absurd alarm— Rodriguez. 

Aug. 22. From Cape San Antonio (which, though so called, 
is only a low point) to rather more than half-way towards Cape 
Corrientes, the sea-coast is sandy and low. Behind the beach 
are sand-hills, and farther inshore are thickets affording shelter 
to numbers of jaguars. In sailing along, even with both 
leads going, we were, for a few minutes, in imminent danger 
of grounding upon a bank, or ledge, which extends six miles 
E.S.E. from Point Medanos. The water shoaled so suddenly, 
and so irregularly, that I could not tell which way to steer ; 
and as we had been running directly before the wind, it was 
impossible to retreat by the safest track (that which we had 
made in approaching) : however, by persevering in pushing 
eastward, away from the land, steering one way or another as 
the water deepened, we at last got clear. We then stood out to 
gain an offing, rounded the bank, and hauled close inshore 
again nearly opposite to a large salt lagoon, called Mar- 
chiquito, which approaches the sea so closely as to have occa- 
sioned an idea that, by cutting through the narrow strip of 
land which separates them, a fine port might be formed. 

Some persons assert that there is always a communication 
between the lagoon and the sea ; that cattle cannot pass along 
the isthmus on account of that opening ; and that a boat might 
swim from one to the other. If this is the case, we were much 
deceived on board the Beagle ; for when she passed so near the 
spot that the lagoon was overlooked by the officers at her mast- 



heads, nothing like an opening could be detected, though the 
beach was scrutinized with good glasses, as well from the deck 
as by those who looked down upon it from aloft as we sailed 
by. I suspect that there has been some confusion of ideas 
respecting the little river San Pablo, and a supposed entrance 
to the lagoon : but, be this as it may, very great difficulty 
would be found in attempting to form a large and permanent 
communication at a spot so exposed to heavy south-east gales. 

At Port Valdez (in latitude 42° S.) the entrance is some- 
times completely blocked up by shingle and sand, during and 
after a strong south-east gale ; and I think it probable that 
such an effect would be caused here, at times, whether there 
were a natural or an artificial opening ; and as there is no 
great rise and fall of tide, I much doubt whether the opening 
would be again cleared, as at Port Valdez, by the mere ebb 
and flow of water. 

In the vicinity of Mar-chiquito, the country (campo) is very 
fertile, and well watered. Sheltered to the south by a range 
of down-like hills, whence numerous small brooks originate, it 
gives abundant pasturage to many thousands of cattle, and 
is considered by the Buenos Ayreans to be the finest district 
of their territory. This range of hiUs extends in a west north- 
west direction for more than fifty leagues, and varies in name 
at different places. That part next to Cape Corrientes is called 
Sierra Vuulcan ;* twenty leagues inland is the ridge named 
Tandil, and at the western extreme is a height called Cayru. 
Between Tandil and Cayru there ai-e many hills known by 
particular names, but they are all part of the range above- 
mentioned ; and it is a remarkable fact, that not only this 
range, that nearer to Buenos Ayres called Cerrillada, and 
that of which the Sierra Ventana forms a part, extend nearly 
in an east-south-east and west-north-west direction ; but that 
most of the ranges of high land, most of the rivers, and the 
greater number of inlets, between the Plata and Cape Horn, 
have a similar direction, not varying from it above one point, 
or at most two points of the compass. After we became aware 
* All Indian word, which means ' opening,' or ' having openings.' 


of this peculiarity, it was far easier to avoid shoals, as they all 
lay in a similar direction. 

On a round-topped hill, near Mar-chiquito, we saw an im- 
mense herd of cattle, collected together in one dark-coloured 
mass, which covered many acres of ground. A few men, on 
horseback, were watching them, who, seeing us anchor, drove 
the whole multitude away at a gallop, and in a few minutes 
not one was left behind. Probably they suspected us of ma- 
rauding inclinations. 

Cape Corrientes is a bold, cliffy promontory ; off which, 
notwithstanding the name, I could not distinguish any remark- 
able current. It is said to be hazardous for a boat to go along- 
shore, near the high cliffs of that cape, because there are rocks 
under water which sometimes cause sudden and extremely 
dangerous ' blind breakers."* More than one boat's crew has 
been lost there, in pursuit of seals, which are numerous among 
the rocks and caves at the foot of those cliffs. Hence to Bahia 
Blanco is a long and dreary line of coast, withovit an opening 
fit to receive the smallest sailing vessel, without a remarkable 
feature, and without a river whose mouth is not fordable. Even 
the plan of it, on paper, has such a regular figure, that an 
eye accustomed to charts may doubt its accuracy ; so rarely 
does the outline of an exposed sea-coast extend so far without 
a break. A heavy swell always sets upon it; there is no safe 
anchorage near the shore ; and, as if to complete its uninviting 
qualities, in the interior, but verging on this shore, is a desert 
tract, avoided even by the Indians, and called, in their lan- 
guage, Huecuvu-mapu (country of the Devil). In explor- 
ing this exposed coast, southerly winds sometimes obliged us to 
struggle for an offing ; and we lost several anchors in conse- 
quence of letting them go upon ground which we thought was 
hard sand lying over clay, but which turned out to be tosca, 
slightly covered with sand, and full of holes. The lead indi- 
cated a sandy, though hard bottom ; but we found it ever}* 
where so perforated and so tough, that, drop an anchor where 
we might, it was sure to hook a rock-like lump of tosca, which 
sometimes was torn away, but at others broke the anchor. 

H ii 


Finding this to be the case, I had a stout hawser ' bent'' to the 
* crown' of the anchor, and after shortening in cable, tripped 
the anchor by the hawser, and then weighed it, uninjured, 
without much difficulty. 

Along this extent of sea-coast, half way between the cur- 
rents in the vicinity of the Plata, and those occasioned by strong 
tides near Blanco Bay and the river Negro, we found no cur- 
rent. Whether there was a rise of tide it was not easy to ascer- 
tain by the lead-line, when at anchor, from the bottom being 
so uneven ; and to land wa# impossible, on account of a furious 

Several kinds of fish were caught at our temporary anchor- 
ages, and noticed carefully by Mr. Darwin. Anchorage is not 
a word I should use in this case (where the anchor was only let 
go for a short time while the ship's position could be fixed 
with accuracy, and our triangulation carried on in a satisfactory 
manner), as it might deceive a stranger to the coast : stopping- 
place would be better. 

While examining the positions nearest to Blanco Bay, we 
had occasional alarms — such as the wind shifting and blowing 
strong directly towards the land ; our soundings shoaling sud- 
denly to three, or less than three fathoms ; or thick weather 
coming on while a boat was away sounding; — but these are 
every-day events in a surveying vessel actively employed. 

Near Blanco Bay we found the water greatly discoloured, 
and the soundings were not such as to tempt us onwards; how- 
ever, it was necessary to proceed. We steered towards a little 
hill, which I fancied must be Mount Hermoso,* and soon 
after sun-set, on the 5th, anchored in what we afterwards found 
to be the roadstead near that hillock, at the head of Blanco 
Bay, close to the entrance of Port Belgrano, but divided from 
it by a bank. 

As the bad apologies for charts of this place, which we pos- 
sessed at our first visit, left us as much at a loss as if we had 

• Mount Hermoso is but 140 feet above the sea ; yet, on this low coast, 
it is somewhat remarkable, as being the only peaked hill close to the 
water ; and having under it a low cliffy point, the only one thereabouts. 


none, I set out with the boats next morning to seek for a pas- 
sage into Port Belgrano.* 

Our boats were soon stopped by shoal water, and I found, 
to my vexation, that the Beagle was anchored at the head of 
an inlet, between the shore and a large bank extending far 
towards the south-east, and that before going farther west she 
must retreat eastward, and look for another passage. This 
was an unexpected dilemma ; but our prospect was improved 
by the appearance of a small schooner running towards us, 
from Port Belgrano, with a Buenos Ayrean (or Argentine) flag 

Very soon she came near enough for our boat to reach her, 
and an Englishman came on board, who offered to pilot the 
Beagle to a safe anchorage within the port. This was Mr. 
Harris, owner of the little schooner in which he sailed, (a resi- 
dent at Del Carmen, on the river Negro, and trading thence 
along the coast), with whom we had much satisfactory inter- 
course during the next twelvemonth. 

By his advice we weighed anchor, stood across the great 
north bank, in very little more water than we drew, until we 
got into a channel where there was water enough for any ship, 
and a soft muddy bottom : there we hauled up west-north- west,-f- 
by his direction, and with a fresh wind sailed rapidly into the 
extensive and excellent, though then little known harbour, 
called Port Belgrano ; and at dusk anchored near the wells 
under Anchorstock HiU (or Point Johnson). 

To give an idea of the general appearance, or almost disap- 
pearance, of the very low land around this spacious port, I will 
mention, that when the Beagle had crossed the north bank, 
and hauled up in the fair way. Mount Hermoso was nearly 
beneath the horizon ; some bushes on the flat land southward 

* Often erroneously called Bahia Blanco ; a name originally given to 
the outer bay, in compliment to General Blanco. 

+ So constantly did Mr. Harris give this course, on subsequent occa- 
sions, that it became quite a joke; but it is nevertheless a strong cor- 
roboration of what I stated respecting the general direction of the inlets, 
and ridges, or ranges of hills. 


of US (Zuraita Island) could be just distinguished; and ahead 
in the north-west quarter, no land could be made out, except 
the distant Venlana mountain, which we saw for the first time 
on that day. 

In consequence of this extent of water being intersected by- 
banks, and having so few marks, it is very difficult of access ; 
and no place can offer less that is agreeable to the eye, espe- 
cially when the tide is out, and much of the banks shows above 
water. A more disagreeable place to survey, or one tliat 
would occupy more time, we were not likely to find, I thought, 
as I looked around from the mast-head ; but upon questioning 
Mr. Harris, I learned that a succession of similar inlets indented 
a half-drowned coast, extending hence almost to the Negro ; 
and that, although the dangers were numerous, tides strong, 
banks muddy, and the shores every where low, the intervening 
ports were so safe, and so likely to be useful, that it was abso- 
lutely necessary to examine them. 

Sept. 7. Messrs. Darwin, Rowlett, and Harris set out with 
me to visit the Buenos Ayrean settlement, called Argentina. 
Mr. Harris undertook to be our guide, but after two hours' 
sailing and pulling we found ourselves near the head of a 
creek, between two soft mud banks, where we could neither 
row nor turn the boat. We could not land because the mud 
was too soft to bear our weight, so there we staid till the tide 
flowed. About two hours after this stoppage there was water 
enough for us to cross a large bank, and gain the right channel, 
from which we had deviated, and then, with a flowing tide, we 
made rapid progress, until the ' Guardia' was announced to us. 
This was a small hut near the water side, but to reach it we 
had to wind along a tortuous canal, between banks of soft mud : 
and when we arrived at the landing-place seven hours had been 
passed among rushy mud banks, surrounded by which we were 
often prevented from seeing any solid land. The water was 
every where salt, the tide running strongly, and the boat often 

Waiting to meet us was an assemblage of grotesque figures, 
which I shall not easily forget — a painter would have been 


charmed with them. A dark visaged Quixotic character, partly 
in uniform, mounted on a large lean horse, and attended by 
several wild looking, but gaily dressed gauchos,* was nearest 
to us. Behind him, a little on one side, were a few irregular 
soldiers, variously armed, and no two dressed alike, but well 
mounted, and desperate-looking fellows ; while on the other 
side, a group of almost naked Indian prisoners sat devouring 
the remains of a half roasted horse ; and as they scowled at us 
savagely, still holding the large bones they had been gnawing, 
with their rough hair and scanty substitutes for clothing blown 
about by the wind, I thought I had never beheld a more sin- 
gular group. 

The tall man in uniform was the Commandant of the settle- 
ment, or fortress, called Argentina : he and his soldiers had 
arrived to welcome us, svipposing that we were bringing sup- 
plies from Buenos Ayres for the needy colony. The Indian 
prisoners had been brought to work, and assist in carrying 
the supplies which were expected. Finding that we were 
neither Buenos Ayreans, nor traders from any other place, it 
was supposed that we must be spies sent to reconnoitre the 
place previous to a hostile attack. Neither the explanations 
nor assertions of Mr. Harris had any weight, for as he was 
our countryman, they naturally concluded he was in league 
with us ; yet, as the commandant had some idea that we might, 
by possibility, be what we maintained we were, he disregarded 
the whispers and suggestions of his people, and offered to carry 
us to the settlement for a night's lodging. 

Leaving the boat''s crew to bivouac, as usual, I accepted 
a horse offered to me, and took the purser up behind ; Mr. 
Darwin and Harris being also mounted behind two gaucho 
soldiers, away we went across a flat plain to the settlement., 
Mr. Darwin was carried off before the rest of the party, to be 
cross-questioned by an old major, who seemed to be considered 
the wisest man of the detachment, and he, poor old soul, 

• Countrymen, employed in keeping and killing cattle, breeding 
and training horses, hunting, war, &c. 




thought we were very suspicious characters, especially Mr. 
Darwin, whose objects seemed most mysterious. 

In consequence, we were watched, though otherwise most 
hospitably treated ; and when I proposed to return, next 
morning, to the boat, trifling excuses were made about the 
want of horses and fear of Indians arriving, by which I saw 
that the commandant wished to detain us, but was unwilling 
to do so forcibly ; telling him, therefore, I should walk back, and 
setting out to do so, I elicited an order for horses, maugre the 
fears and advice of his major, who gave him all sorts of warn- 
ings about us. However, he sent an escort with us, and a troop 
of gaucho soldiers were that very morning posted upon the 
rising grounds nearest to the Beagle, to keep a watch on our 

We afterwards heard, that the old major's suspicions had 
been very much increased by Harris's explanation of Mr. 
Darwin's occupation. ' Un naturalista' was a term unheard of 
by any person in the settlement, and being unluckily explained 
by Harris as meaning < a man that knows every thing,' any 
further attempt to quiet anxiety was useless. 

As this small settlement has seldom been visited by strangers, 
I will describe its primitive state. In the midst of a level 
country, watered by several brooks, and much of it thickly 
covered with a kind of trefoil, stands a mud -walled erection, 
dignified with the sounding appellation of ' La fortaleza pro- 
tectora Argentina.' It is a polygon, 282 yards in diameter, 
having about twenty-four sides, and surrounded by a narrow 
ditch. In some places the walls are almost twenty feet high, 
but in others I was reminded of the brothers' quarrel at the 
building of ancient Rome, for there is a mere ditch, over 
which a man could jump. It is, however, said by the gauchos, 
that a ditch six feet wide will stop a mounted Indian, and that 
their houses require no further defence from attacks of the 
aborigines. How, or why it is that such excellent horse- 
men do not teach their horses to leap, I cannot understand. 

Within, and outside the fort, were huts (ranchos) and a few 


small houses : — more were not required for the inhabitants, 
who, including the garrison, only amounted to four hundred 
souls. Some half-dozen brass guns were in a serviceable con- 
dition ; and two or three other pieces occupied old carriages, 
but did not seem to be trustworthy. 

The fort was commenced in April 1828, by a French 
engineer, named Parchappe. The first commandant was Es- 
tomba : his successor. Morel, was killed, with ninety followers, 
by a party of Indians under Chenil, in 1829. Valle and Rojas 
succeeded, and the latter was followed by Rodriguez. Placed 
in the first instance as an advanced post, at which to watch 
and check the Indians, rather than as a colony likely to increase 
rapidly, Argentina has scarcely made any progress since its 
establishment, though it is the beginning of what may here- 
after be a considerable place. Situated favourably for com- 
municating with Concepcion — by way of the pass through the 
Cordillera, near Tucapel — it is also the only port, between 
25° S. and Cape Horn, capable of receiving in security any 
number of the largest ships. 

There is pasture for cattle near the streams which descend 
from the ' Sierra Ventana :' large salinas (spaces covered with 
salt) lie within an easy distance of the settlement : of brush- 
wood for fuel there is plenty, though there are no large trees : 
and report says that there are valuable minerals, including coal 
and iron,* in the Ventana-f- mountain. 

The most serious objection to the locality, as an agricul- 
tural, or even as a mere grazing district, is the want of rain. 
Two or three years sometimes pass without more than a slight 
shower; and during summer the heat is great. In winter, 
there are sharp frosts, sometimes snow; but neither ice nor 
snow ever lasts through the day. 

Good fresh water may be generally obtained, independent 
of the few running streams, by digging wells between four and 

• I believe there is no good foundation for this report. Mr. Darwin's 
opinion is against the supposition. 

t The name ' Ventana' was given because of an opening, at the south 
side, resembling a window. , 

106 TORiANO — iNDiAXs. Sept- 

ten feet deep : and in this way we found no difficulty in obtain- 
ing an ample supply. 

Three months before our visit to Argentina, a number of 
Indians had been surprised and taken prisoners by Rodriguez ; 
and among them was the famous old cacique, Toriano, whose 
mere name was a terror to the frontier settlers. The commandant 
attacked their 'tolderia' (encampment) just before sunrise — 
when the young men were absent on an expedition — and made 
prisoners of the old men, women, and children. Toriano was shot 
in cold blood; with another cacique, and several Indians of infe- 
rior note : and his head was afterwards cut off, and preserved for 
some time at the fort, in order to convince his adherents of his 
death. Toriano was a noble Araucanian, upwards of seventy 
years old when surprised asleep and taken prisoner by his mer- 
ciless enemies. So high was his acknowledged character as a 
warrior, that his followers supposed him invincible ; and until 
convinced by the melancholy spectacle seen by their spies, 
they would not believe him gone. 

Perhaps it is not generally known, that many of the most 
desperate incursions upon the Buenos Ayrean colonists have 
been made by flying troops, or hordes of Indians, whose head- 
quarters are in the Cordillera of the Andes, or even on the 
west coast, between Concepcion and Valdivia. Mounted upon 
excellent horses, and acquainted with every mile of the coun- 
try, they think lightly of a predatory or hostile excursion 
against a place many hundred miles distant. 

We returned to the Beagle without another delay among 
the mud-banks, and found the rising grounds (heights they 
could not be called), nearest the ship, occupied by the troop 
of gaucho soldiers. As they did not interfere with us, our 
surveying operations were begun, and carried on as usual. Mr. 
Darwin, and those who could be spared from duties afloat, 
roamed about the country ; and a brisk trade was opened with 
the soldiers for ostriches and their eggs, for deer, cavies, and 

My friend's attention was soon attracted to some low cliffs 
near Point Alta, where he found some of those huge fossil 


1832. FOSSILS — ANIMALS. 107 

bones, described in his work ; and notwithstanding our smiles 
at the cargoes of apparent rubbish which he frequently 
brought on board, he and his servant used their pick-axes in 
earnest, and brought away what have since proved to be most 
interesting and valuable remains of extinct animals. 

The soldiers appointed to watch our movements soon relaxed 
so far as to spend nearly all their time in hunting animals for 
us. Besides those already mentioned, they one day brought a 
fine living puma, in hopes I should offer a good price, and 
embark it alive; but having no wish for so troublesome a 
companion in our crowded little vessel, I only bargained for 
its skin. The soldiers made a hearty meal of the flesh, and 
asserted that it was good, though inferior to that of a horse, 
which I had seen them eating a day or two previously. 

Four kinds of armadilloes were described to us by these 
men, of which we saw but two : the quiriquincha, with nine 
bands ; the mataca-bola, which rolls up into a ball ; the pelu- 
do, which is large and hairy ; and the molito, of which I heard 
only the name. Mr. Rowlett saw a black fox, and he was 
told that there are wolves in the neighbourhood. Two small bur- 
rowing animals are also found : the zorillo, or skunk ; and the 
tucu-tucu. While speaking of animals, I should say that the 
commandant (Rodriguez) told me, that he had once seen, in 
Paraguay, a ' gran bestia,' not many months old, but which 
then stood about four feet high. It was very fierce, and secured 
by a chain. Its shape resembled that of a hog, but it had 
talons on its feet instead of hoofs ; the snout was like a hog's, 
but much longer. When half-grown, he was told that it would 
be capable of seizing and carrying away a horse or a bullock. 
I concluded that he must have seen a tapir or anta ; yet as he 
persisted in asserting that the animal he saw was a beast of 
prey,* and that it was extremely rare,* I here repeat what he 
said. (See extract from Falkner. — Appendix — No. 11.) 

Abundance — I may well say shoals of fish were caught by 
our men, whenever we hauled the nets at a proper time (the 
beginning of the flood-tide) ; and as they were chiefly un- 
* Neither of which remarks apply to tlic Anta. 

108 CLIMATE — PUMICE. Sept. 

known to naturalists, Mr. Earle made careful drawings of 
them, and Mr. Darwin preserved many in spirits. We pro- 
cured plenty of good fresh water from wells near the beach, 
and small wood for fuel in their immediate neighbourhood. 
The climate is delightful, and healthy to the utmost degree, 
notwithstanding such extensive flats, half-covered with water, 
and so many large mud-banks. Perhaps the tides, which rise 
from eight to twelve feet, and run two or three knots an hour, 
tend to purify the air ; indeed, as the whole inlet is of salt 
water, there may be no cause for such effects as would be 
expected in similar situations near fresh water. 

In our rambles over the country, near Port Belgrano, we 
every where found small pieces of pumice-stone ; and till Mr. 
Darwin examined the Ventana, supposed they had been thrown 
thence : he has, however, ascertained that it is not volcanic ; 
and, I believe, concludes that these fragments came from the 
Cordillera of the Andes.— (See Vol. III. by Mr. Darwin.) 

Falkner, in whose accounts of what he himself saw I have 
full faith, has a curious passage illustrative of this supposition ; 
and it is not impossible — nor even, I think, improbable — that 
some of the pumice we saw fell at the time mentioned in the 
following extract : — " Being in the Vuulcan, below Cape St. 
Anthony, I was witness to a vast cloud of ashes being carried 
by the winds, and darkening the whole sky. It spread over 
great part of the jurisdiction of Buenos Ayres, passed the 
river of Plata, and scattered its contents on both sides of the 
river, insomuch that the grass was covered with ashes. This 
was caused by the eruption of a volcano near Mendoza, the 
winds carrying the light ashes to the incredible distance of 
three hundred leagues or more."" — Falkner, p. .51. 

As an indisputable, and very recent instance of the distance 
to wliich volcanic substances are sometimes carried, I might 
mention the fact of H.M.S, Conway having passed through 
quantities of pumice-stone and ashes, in latitude 7° north, and 
longitude 105° west, being more than seven hundred miles from 
the nearest land, and eleven hundi-ed from the volcano near 
Realejo, whence it is supposed that they proceeded ; but as it is 


possible that those substances might have been thrown out of a 
volcano in the Galapagos Islands, and drifted on the surface 
of the sea by currents, which near there run from twenty to 
eighty miles in twenty-four hours, towards the north-west, one 
cannot, with certainty, rely upon that fact as evidence of a 
distance to which pumice has been carried by wind. 

Captain Eden informed me, that the Conway was sur- 
rounded by ashes and pumice-stone for a day and a half (on 
the 5th and 6th of May 1835), and that they were supposed 
to have been ejected from a volcano near Realejo, at the time 
of the great earthquake ; and an eruption which darkened the 
air during three days. 

The aborigines of these regions attach considerable impor- 
tance to the Ventana,* chiefly on account of its use as a land- 
mark ; for, rising abruptly to the height of 3,340 feet in a flat 
country, where there is not another hill of consequence, it is 
of no small use to them in their wanderings. I was told by 
Mr. Darwin, that he found it to be chiefly of quartz forma- 
tion ; but I need not risk causing a mistake, by repeating here 
the information which he gave me, when it is given fully in 
his own words in the accompanying volume. 

After a few days' examination of Port Belgrano, and 
making inquiries of Harris, as well as those persons at 
Argentina who knew something of the neighbouring waters 
and shores, I was convinced that the Beagle alone could not 
explore them, so far as to make her survey of any real use, 
unless she were to sacrifice a great deal more time than would 
be admissible, considering the other objects of her expedition. 
What then was to be done ? Open boats could not explore 
the seaward limits of those numerous shoals which lie between 
Blanco Bay and the river Negro, because there are dange- 
rous ' races,'t and often heavy seas. The Beagle herself, no 
doubt, could do so, and her boats might explore the inlets ; 
but, the time that such a proceeding would occupy was 

• The Puel Indians called the Ventana Casu-hati (high hill); and the 
Molu-che, Vuta-calel (great bulk.) — Falkner, p. 74. 
t Tide-races, or ripples. 


alarming to contemplate. I might run along the outer line of 
danger in the Beagle, and connect it with the soundings in 
the offing ; but how could an English ship surveying a fre- 
quented coast overlook six large ports,* only because their 
examination required time, and was dangerous ? At last, after 
much anxious deliberation, I decided to hire two small schooners 
— or rather decked boats, schooner-rigged — from Mr. Harris, 
and employ them in assisting the Beagle and her boats. Mr. 
' Harris was to be in the larger, as pilot to Lieutenant Wick- 
ham — and his friend Mr. Roberts, also settled at Del Carmen, 
on the river Negro, was to be Mr. Stokes's pilot in the smaller 
vessel. These small craft, of fifteen and nine tons respec- 
tively, guided by their owners, who had for years frequented 
this complication of banks, harbours, and tides, seemed to me 
capable of fulfilling the desired object — under command of 
such steady and able heads as the officers mentioned — with 
this great advantage ; that, while the Beagle might be procur- 
ing supplies at Monte Video, going with the Fuegians on her 
first trip to the southward, and visiting the Falkland islands, 
the survey of all those intricacies between Blanco Bay and 
San Bias might be carried on steadily during the finest time 
of year. One serious difficulty, that of my not being autho- 
rized to hire or purchase assistance on account of the Govern- 
ment, I did not then dwell upon, for I was anxious and 
eager, and, it has proved, too sanguine. I made an agree- 
ment with Mr. Harris, -j- on my own individual responsibility, 
for such payment as seemed to be fair compensation for his 
stipulated services, and I did hope that if the results of these 
arrangements should turn out well, I should stand excused 
for having presumed to act so freely, and should be reim- 
bursed for the sum laid out, which I could so ill spare. However, 
I foresaw and was willing to run the risk, and now console 
myself for this, and other subsequent mortifications, by the 
reflection that the service entrusted to me did not suffer. 

• Blanco Bay and Port Belgrano, False Bay, Green Bay, Brightman 
Inlet, Union Bay, and San Bias Bay. 
t See Appendix. 

1832. PAZ — LIEBRE REFIT. Ill 

The formal agreement with Mr. Harris being duly signed, 
I despatched him forthwith to the river Negro, in search of 
his vessels, and sent the purser with him to ascertain the state 
of things at Del Carmen, especially with a view to future 

They went in a small coasting vessel, belonging to another 
Englishman (H. Elsegood), settled at Del Carmen; for the 
schooner, from which Mr. Harris came to us near to Mount 
Hermoso, did not delay, but continued her course towards 
the river Negro. 

Our boats were constantly employed while these arrange- 
ments were pending, and directly they were finished, the Bea- 
gle got under sail to examine the entrance and outer parts of 
the port. For several days she was thus engaged, anchoring 
always at night. In a week the schooners arrived, bringing 
our purser and their owners. The Paz, of about fifteen tons 
burthen, was as ugly and ill-built a craft as I ever saw, covered 
with dirt, and soaked with rancid oil. The Liebre, of 
about nine tons burthen, was a frigate's barge,* raised and 
decked — oily like the other ; but as both had done their owners 
good service in procuring seal and sea-elephant oil, I saw no 
reason to doubt our being able to make them answer our pur- 
pose. Yet the prospect for those who had so handsomely 
volunteered to go in any thing, with or without a deck, could 
not be otherwise than extremely unpleasant ; for they did not 
then foresee how soon a thorough cleansing and complete 
outfit would be given to both vessels, and how different they 
would afterwards appear. 

Lieutenant Wickham, with the sailmaker, armourer, cooper, 
and a small party, were immediately established under tents, 
on the banks of a small creek (Arroyo Pareja). The little 
schooners were hauled ashore for examination and a thorough 
refit ; and then, having left them the stores and other neces- 
saries which they would require, I went with the Beagle 
towards Blanco Bay ; completed the examination of a 
narrow though deep channel, by which any ship may 
* She had been the barge of the Brazilian frigate Piranga. 


enter Port Belgrano, passed round the great north bank, and 
again anchored under Mount Hermoso. While some officers 
and men were on shore there, building a sea-mark on the mount, 
and otherwise employed for the survey, a gale of wind came on 
from S.E., which soon sent so heavy a sea into the road- 
stead near the mount, that the Beagle was obliged to strike 
topmasts and veer a long scope of cable upon two anchors, 
besides having another under foot. Unluckily, our party 
on shore had only one day's provisions, so while the gale 
lasted their situation was sufficiently disagreeable; the keen 
air and hard exercise sharpening their appetites, while they 
had nothing to eat after the first day ; and having no guns, 
they had no prospect of procuring anything. Mr. Darwin 
was also on shore, having been searching for fossils, and 
he found this trial of hunger quite long enough to satisfy 
even his love of adventure. Directly it was possible to put 
a boat on the water, one was sent, with provisions secured 
in a cask which was thrown overboard at the back of the surf, 
and soon drifted ashore to the famishing party. This gale 
lasted several days, and proved to us not only how heavy a 
sea is thrown into this bight (rincon, Sp.), by a south-east 
gale; but also, that the holding-ground is sufficiently good 
to enable a ship to withstand its effects. 

One of our party on shore (who is not likely to forget 
building a mark on Mount Hermoso) discovered many curious 
fossils in some low cliffs under the mount; and judging from 
what Mr. Darwin then found, future collectors may reap a rich 
harvest there, as well as at Point Alta. 

We next returned to the Wells, and while some assisted the 
outfit of Lieutenant Wickham's little vessels, others explored 
the upper parts of the port, quite to its end, and Mr. Darwin 
took advantage of the opportvmity to make some of those 
interesting excursions which he describes in his volume. At 
this time there were no soldiers to watch us, neither was there 
any longer a suspicion of our character ; for it appeared that 
an express had been sent off to Buenos Ayres, at our first 
arrival, giving an exaggerated and rather ludicrous account of 

Oct. 1832. ABSURD ALARMS. 113 

our officers, instruments and guns — to which an answer had 
been immediately returned, desiring the commandant to afford 
us every facility in his power, and checking the old major 
rather sharply for his officious and unnecessary caution. Had 
we not been hastily treated in the roads of Buenos Ayres, 
when I went there to communicate with the Government, and 
obtain information, I should doubtless have carried with me 
orders, or a letter, to this commandant, which would have 
prevented a moment's suspicion : but, as it happened, no real 
delay was occasioned, and no person was much disturbed 
except the major, who fancied that our brass guns were dis- 
guised field-pieces, our instruments lately invented engines of 
extraordinary power, our numerous boats intended expressly 
for disembarking troops ; and an assertion of mine, that any 
number of line-of-battle ships might enter the port, a sure 
indication that the Beagle was sent to find a passage for large 
ships : which would soon appear, and take possession of the 
country. Such was the substance of his communication to the 
Government at Buenos Ayres, and as he acted as secretary — 
(Rodriguez being a man of action rather than words) — he had 
free scope for his disturbed imagination. I shall not easily 
forget his countenance, when I first told him — thinking he 
would be glad to hear it — that there was a deep channel leading 
from Blanco Bay to the Guardia near Argentina, and that a 
hne-of-battle ship could approach within gunshot of the place 
where I first met the commandant. He certainly thought 
himself almost taken prisoner ; and I really believe that if he 
had been commanding officer, we should have been sent 
in chains to Buenos Ayres, or perhaps stiU worse treated. 
Fortunately, Rodriguez the commandant, being a brave man, 
and a gentleman, contemplated no such measures. 



Beagle sails with Paz and Liebre — Part company — Beagle visits Buenos 
Ayres — Nautical remarks on the Plata— Sail from Monte Video for 
San Bias— Lieut. Wickham and tenders— Butterflies— Sail for Tierra 
del Fuego— White-water — Icebergs— Rocks— Cape San Sebastian — 
Oens-men — Cape San Diego — Good Success Bay — Natives— Guana- 
coes— Cape Horn— St. Martin Cove — Gales— Heavy Seas — Nassau 
Bay— Goree Road— Prepare to land Matthews and the Fuegians. 

18th October. No person who had only seen the Paz and 
Liebre in their former wretched condition, would easily have 
recognised them after being refitted, and having indeed almost a 
new equipment. Spars altered, and improved rigging, well-cut 
sails, fresh paint,* and thorough cleanliness, had transformed 
the dirty sealing craft into smart little cock-boats : and as they 
sailed out of Port Belgrano with the Beagle, their appear- 
ance and behaviour were by no means discouraging. 

At dusk, Lieutenant Wickham and his small party of ven- 
turous associates separated from us, and steered into False 
Bay.f The Beagle anchored for the night, and next day pur- 
sued her route towards Monte Video, where she arrived on the 

Desirous of communicating with the Government at Buenos 
Ayres, and measuring the difference of meridians between that 
city and Monte Video, we weighed anchor on the 31st, pro- 
ceeded up the river, and remained in the outer roadstead, off 
Buenos Ayres, until the 10th of November. We then em- 
ployed three days in verifying the positions of some banks,:|: 
as laid down in Heywood's and other charts, and returned to 
Monte Video on the 14th. 

• Or rather red-ochre, coal-tar, and white-wash* 
t See orders to Lieut. Wickham, in the Appendix. 
J Ortiz, Chico, and Ensenada. 


It is not prudent for any vessel drawing more than ten feet 
water to remain under sail in this part of the river, while it is 
dark, unless a good pilot is on board ; and even the best prac- 
tical experience is not always a sure guide, so uncertain and 
fluctuating are the currents and depths of water. There are 
a few simple precautions, useful in such circumstances, of 
which I may be excused for reminding young sailors. A 
ground-log ought to be hove frequently, and compared with a 
common log ; there should be a leadsman in each chains, one, 
at least, of whom should sound constantly : the deep-sea lead* 
ought to be used now and then, even in shallow water, as a 
check upon the hand-lead : from the vessel's draught of water 
to two fathoms more than that depth, the hand-line should be 
marked to feet, by alternate marks of dark-coloured hair and 
small line : strong lanterns should be suspended under the 
chain-wales, near the water, but close to the ship's side ; while 
a careful person ought to superintend the leadsman, and occa- 
sionally take a line into his own hand, so that by ' plumbing ' 
the bottom himself he may ascertain how far reliance is to be 
placed upon the leadsman's opinion. 

In the Plata, as well as in many other pilot-waters, to 
feel the ground thus is often more useful than knowing the 
precise depth of water, or even the colour, or nature, of the 

27th Nov. Our arrangements and observations being satis- 
factorily completed, a sufficient quantity of provision on board 
to last eight months, at full allowance, and an extra sup- 
ply of iron and coals for the forge, in case of any serious 
accident, the Beagle sailed from Monte Video ; and, after 
filling water near Cape Jesu Maria,-|- hastened to look after her 
little assistants, left near Bahia Blanco. 

In this trip we benefitted by the assistance of Mr. Robert 
N. Hamond, an early and much esteemed friend of mine, 
who was lent to the Beagle from H.M.S. Druid, of which he 
was then a mate. 

• Massey's is preferable . 
t Above Monte Video, on the north shore. 
I 2 


December 3d. Soon after daylight we saw the very low 
islands, just to the northward of San Bias. I wished to have 
made Point Rubia, but was set twenty miles northward, during 
the night, by the flood tide. We stood directly towards the 
shore, but when eight miles from it fovind a wide breadth of 
discoloured water, and the depth shoaled suddenly from ten 
to three fathoms in a few casts of the lead. Hauling off", we 
steered southward, with the ebb tide. There was no ripple on 
the banks, but the water was quite yellow, and at the time we 
altered our course, in consequence of such shallow water, the 
nearest land was, at least, eight miles distant. 

While tracing the outer edge of this bank we descried our 
cock-boats coming out to meet us, and soon afterwards 
Mr. Wickham came on board. He gave us gratifying news 
with little drawback ; but had he been half-roasted his own 
appearance could hardly have been more changed. Notwith- 
standing tlie protection of a huge beard, every part of his face 
was so scorched and blistered by the sun that he could hardly 
speak, much less join in the irresistible laugh, at his own 
expense. His companions were similarly sun -burned, though 
not to such a degree. They had been much occupied in 
sounding extensive banks and harbours, under a hot sun, and 
while a fresh wind kept them constantly wet with spray. 
But this inconvenience was trifling ; one of more importance 
was excessive sea-sickness, in consequence of the short and 
violent movements of such small craft under sail among the 
tide-races and eddies so numerous on that coast. 

In other respects all had prospered so well, that I deter- 
mined to give Mr. Wickham fresh orders,* enlarging conside- 
rably his share of surveying operations. He was desired to 
continue exploring the coast, even as far as Port Desire, until 
the Beagle's return from her visit to Tierra del Fuego and 
the Falkland Islands. 

Astheweather promised well, an anchorwas dropped where we 
were, outside the banks, but the schooners sought shelter in the 
harbour of San Bias. Next day they came out and anchored 

• See Appendix. 


close to US, in order to receive stores and various supplies 
which we had brought for them from Buenos Ayres and Monte 
Video. I was a little uneasy when I saw that the pilot of the 
Liebre, Mr. Roberts, was one of the largest of men, and that 
his little vessel looked, by comparison, no bigger than a coffin ; 
but Mr. Wickham allayed my doubts by assuring me that 
his moveable weight answered admirably in trimming the 
craft ; and that, when she got a-ground, Mr. Roberts stepped 
overboard, and heaved her afloat. " Certainly," said Mr. Wick- 
ham, " he did harm on one day, by going up to look-out, and 
breaking the mast." 

In the afternoon of this day (4th) we weighed anchor and 
parted company from the Paz and Liebre. They returned 
to San Bias, and the Beagle steered southward. Secure and 
capacious as is the port just mentioned, it is one of the most 
difficult and dangerous to enter on this coast The best, 
indeed only approach to it, is called by those sealers and sea- 
elephant fishers who have hitherto frequented it, — ' HeU-gate.'' 

At about four the weather was very hot, the sky cloudless, 
and varying flaws of wind drove quantities of gossamer, and 
numbers of insects off" from the land. The horizon was 
strangely distorted by refraction, and I anticipated some vio- 
lent change. Suddenly myriads of white butterflies surrounded 
the ship, in such multitudes, that the men exclaimed, " it is 
snowing butterflies." They were driven before a gust from the 
north-west, which soon increased to a double-reefed topsail 
breeze, and were as numerous as flakes of snow in the thickest 
shower. The space they occupied could not have been less 
than two hundred yards in height, a mile in width, and several 
miles in length. 

Our next object was to visit Tierra del Fuego, examine 
some portions of that country — yet unexplored — and restore 
the Fuegians to their native places ; but in our passage, strong 
southerly winds, severe squalls, and cold weather, though it was 
near midsummer in that hemisphere, caused delay and discom- 
fort, as they must always in a small and deeply-laden vessel, 
where little can be done except in fine weather. 


• We passed through a space of sea,* many miles in extent, 
where the water was of a very much lighter colour than usual ; 
not of a light-green or muddy hue, such as one sees near land, 
but of a milky white tint. Being in soundings, one naturally 
attributed such a change of colour to some peculiarity in the 
ground ; but I have since thought differently, and am now 
inclined to believe that the light-coloured water came from a 
distance, in one of those great, though slow-moving currents, 
which sweep past the Falkland Islands, and thence northwards : 
but to what cause its unusual whiteness is to be attributed, I 
know not. The dissolution of a huge iceberg, or of many ice- 
bergs, might alter the colour, and certainly would change the 
temperature of a considerable body of water ; but in this case, 
a thermometer immersed in the sea did not indicate a degree 
lower than that of the previous or following day. During the 
three days, our soundings varied only from fifty to sixty 
fathoms. The lead certainly brought up fine grey sand while 
the water was light-coloured, and dark sand at other times ; 
but I can hardly think that so decided a change— different from 
any I noticed elsewhere — could have been caused in fifty fathoms 
water by so small an alteration in the quality of the bottom. 

Icebergs have been seen in latitude 40° S., and near the lon- 
gitude of 50° W' ; perhaps they are sometimes carried nearer 
the coast, in which case they would ground, and melt away. 

I suspect that some of the rocks, so often, yet so fruitlessly, 
sought for — and instead of which many persons have supposed 
dead whales, wrecks, or large trees, were seen — may have been 
icebergs, against and upon which sea- weed, drift-wood, or other 
substances, may have lodged temporarily, causing a rock-like 
appearance. In this way, perhaps, arose the report of a rock 
said to have been seen by Lieutenant Burdwood ; of the Aigle 
and Ariel rocks — and even of those islets sought for ineffec- 
tually by Weddell, a few degrees eastward of the Falkland 

* Lat. 46°.S. Long. 63° W. 

t On this subject there are a few more remarks, under the head — Cur- 
rents of the ocean, — in the last chapter but one. 

183?. TIERRA DEL FUEGO. 119 

In the first volume some notice was taken of the supposed 
Ariel Rocks, and I will avail myself of this opportunity to say 
that at various times the Beagle passed over and near their 
asserted position; and that she likewise searched for the 
reported Aigle shoal or rock, without ever finding the slightest 
indication of either. 

On the 15th, we saw the land off Tierra del Fuego, near 
Cape San Sebastian, and next day closed the shore about Cape 
Sunday, ran along it past Cape Penas, and anchored off Santa 
Inez. A group of Indians was collected near Cape Penas, 
who watched our motions attentively. They were too far off 
for us to make out more than that they were tail men, on foot, 
nearly naked, and accompanied by several large dogs. To 
those who had never seen man in his savage state — one of the 
most painfully interesting sights to his civilized brother— even 
this distant glimpse of the aborigines was deeply engaging ; 
but York Minster and Jemmy Button asked me to fire at 
them, saying that they were " Oens-men— very bad men."" 

Our Fuegian companions seemed to be much elated at the 
certainty of being so near their own country ; and the boy was 
never tired of telling us how excellent his land was — how glad 
his friends would be to see him — and how well they would treat 
us in return for our kindness to him. 

We remained but a few hours at anchor under Cape Santa 
Inez, for so heavy a swell set in, directly towards the shore, 
caused probably by a northerly gale at a distance, that our 
situation was dangerous as weU as disagreeable. Our only 
chance of saving the anchor and chain was by weighing imme- 
diately ; yet if we did so, there would be a risk of drifting 
ashore : however, we did weigh, and drifted some distance, roll- 
ing our nettings in ; but a breeze sprung up, freshened rapidly, 
and soon carried us out of danger. This happened at three in 
the morning, so my hopes of observations and angles were frus- 
trated, and I had no choice but to run for the strait of Le 

At noon, very liigh breakers were reported by the mast-head 
man, off Cape San Diego ; at that time the flood-tide was set- 


ting strongly against a northerly wind and high swell ; but 
when the tide was slack, at one, the breakers disappeared ; and 
when we passed close to the cape, at two, the vvater was com- 
paratively smooth. 

There is a ledge extending from Cape San Diego, over which 
the flood-tide, coming from the southward, sometimes breaks 
with such violence, that a small vessel might be swamped by 
the ' bore ' which it occasions. 

As we sailed into Good Success Bay, a Fuegian yell echoed 
among the woody heights, and shout after shout succeeded 
from a party of natives, posted on a projecting woody emi- 
nence, at the north head of the bay, who were seen waving 
skins, and beckoning to us with extreme eagerness. Finding 
that we did not notice them, they lighted a fire, which instantly 
sent up a volume of thick white smoke. I have often been 
astonished at the rapidity with which the Fuegians produce 
this effect (meant by them as a signal) in their wet climate, 
where I have been, at times, more than two hours attempting 
to kindle a fire. 

Scarcely was our ship secured, when the wind shifted to 
south-west, and blew strongly, bringing much rain with it ; and 
we had indeed reason to rejoice at having attained so secure 
an anchorage. During the night, heavy squalls (williwaws) 
disturbed our rest very often, but did no injury, the water 
being quite smooth. 

18th. Mr. Darwin, Mr. Hamond and others, went with me 
to the natives who had so vociferously greeted our arrival; 
and deeply indeed was I interested by witnessing the eflect 
caused in their minds by this first meeting with man in such a 
totally savage state. 

There were five or six stout men, half-clothed in guanaco- 
skins, almost like the Patagonians in aspect and stature, being 
near six feet high, and confident in demeanour. They scarcely 
bore resemblance to the Fuegians, except in colour and class of 
features. I can never forget Mr. Hamond's earnest expression, 
" What a pity such fine fellows should be left in such a bar- 
barous state!" It told me that a desire to benefit these isrno- 




rant, though by no means contemptible human beings, was a 
natural emotion, and not the effect of individual caprice or erro- 
neous enthusiasm ; and that his feelings were exactly in unison 
with those I had experienced on former occasions, which had 
led to my undertaking the heavy charge of those Fuegians 
whom I brought to England. 

Disagreeable, indeed painful, as is even the mental contem- 
plation of a savage, and unwilling as we may be to consider 
ourselves even remotely descended from human beings in such 
a state, the reflection that Caesar found the Britons painted 
and clothed in skins, like these Fuegians, cannot fail to aug- 
ment an interest excited by their childish ignorance of matters 
familiar to civilized man, and by their healthy, independent 
state of existence. One of these men was just six feet high, 
and stout in proportion ; the others were rather shorter : their 
legs were straight and well formed, not cramped and mis- 
shapen, like those of the natives who go about in canoes; and 
their bodies were rounded and smooth. They expressed satis- 
faction or good will by rubbing or patting their own, and then 
our bodies ; and were highly pleased by the antics of a man 
belonging to the boat's crew, who danced well and was a good 
mimic. One of the Fuegians was so like York Minster, that 
he might well have passed for his brother. He asked eagerly 
for " cuchillo." About his eyes were circles of white paint, and 
his upper lip was daubed with red ochre and oil. Another man 
was rubbed over with black. They were (apparently) very 
good-humoured, talked and played with the younger ones of 
our party, danced, stood up back to back with our tallest men 
to compare heights, and began to try their strength in wrest- 
ling — but this I stopped. It was amusing and interesting to 
see their meeting with York and Jemmy, who would not 
acknowledge them as countrymen, but laughed at and mocked 
them. It was evident that both of our Fuegians understood 
much of the language in which the others talked ; but they 
would not try to interpret, alleging that they did not know 
enough. York betrayed this by bursting into an immoderate 
fit of laughter at something the oldest man told him, which 


he could not resist telling us was, that the old man said he was 
dirty, and ought to pull out his beard. Now, if their language 
differed much from that of York Minster, or was indeed other 
than a dialect of the same original, it is not probable that 
York could have understood the old man's meaning so readily 
when he spoke quietly, without signs. 

Richard Matthews was with us, but did not appear to be at 
all discouraged by a close inspection of these natives. He 
remarked to me, that " they were no worse than he had sup- 
posed them to be." 

20th. Soon after day-light this morning, some very large 
guanacoes were seen near the top of Banks Hill.* They 
walked slowly and heavily, and their tails hung down to their 
hocks. To me their size seemed double that of the guanacoes 
about Port Desire. Mr. Darwin and a party set off to ascend 
the heights, anxious to get a shot at the guanacoes and obtain 
an extended view, besides making observations. They reached 
the summit, and saw several large animals, whose long woolly 
coats and tails added to their real bulk, and gave them an 
appearance quite distinct from that of the Patagonian animal ; 
but they could not succeed in shooting one. 

21st. Sailed from Good Success Bay. On the 22d we saw 
Cape Horn, and being favoured with northerly winds, passed 
close to the southward of it before three o'clock. The wind then 
shifted to north-west, and began to blow strong. Squalls came 
over the heights of Hermite Island, and a very violent one, 
with thick weather, decided my standing out to sea for the 
night under close-reefed topsails. The weather continued bad 
and very cold during that night and next day. 

On the morning of the 24th, being off Cape Spencer, with 
threatening weather, a high sea, the barometer low, and great 
heavy-looking white clouds rising in the south-west, indicative ' 
of a gale from that quarter, I determined to seek for an an- 
chorage, and stood into (the so-calledt) St. Francis Bay. In 

* So named in remembrance of Sir Joseph Banks's excursion, 
t In the first volume doubts are expressed (in a note to page 199) 
respecting the place named by D'Arquistade, St. Francis Bay; or rather» 

I said' 


passing Cape Spencer we were assailed by such a furious hail- 
squall, that for many minutes it was quite impossible to look to 
windward, or even to see what was a-head of us. We could not 
venture to wear round, or even heave to, for fear of getting so 
far to leeward as to lose our chance of obtaining an anchorage ; 
however, we stood on at hazard, and the squall passed away 
soon enough to admit of our anchoring in seventeen-fathoms 
water, quite close to a steep promontory at the south side of 
St. Martin Cove. 

After being for some time accustomed to the low barren 
shores and shallow harbours of the Pampa and Patagonian 
coasts, our position almost under this black precipice was sin- 
gularly striking. The decided contrast of abrupt, high, and 
woody mountains, rising from deep water, had been much 
remarked in Good Success Bay; but here it was so great that 
I could hardly persuade myself that the ship was in security 
— sufficiently far from the cliff.* 

25th. Notwithstanding violent squalls, and cold damp 
weather, we kept our Christmas merrily ; certainly, not the 
less so, in consequence of feeling that we were in a secure posi- 
tion, instead of being exposed to the effects of a high sea and 
heavy gale. 

I said, that " I do not think the bay adjacent to Cape Horn is that which 
was named by D'Arquistade, ' St. Francis,' and, if my supposition is 
correct, Port Maxwell is not the place which was called ' St. Bernard's 
Cove.' " 

If the modern chart be compared with that issued by the Admiralty a 
few years ago, published by Faden in 1818, it will be seen that the par. 
ticular plan of St. Francis Bay, given in Faden's chart, agrees much better 
with the west side of Nassau Bay than with any other place ; and that the 
" remarkable island, like a castle," noticed in the plan, is evidently 
" Packsaddle Island," of the modern chart. The rough sketch of land 
towards the north and east, as far as Cape Horn, on that plan, I take to 
be the random outline of land seen at a distance by the person who drew 
the plan, and the name " Cape Horn," aflSxed to the southernmost land 
then in sight; which must have been Cape Spencer. But it is now too 
late to remedy the mistake, which is indeed of no consequence. 

• As the shores of Tierra del Fuego are so much spoken of in other 
places, I say no more of them here. 


At sun-set, there was a reddish appearance all over the sky 
— clouds shot over the summits of the mountains in ragged 
detached masses — and there was a lurid haze around, which 
showed a coming storm as surely as a fall of the barometer. 
The gale increased, and at midnight such furious squalls 
came down from the heights, that the water was swept up, and 
clouds of foam were driven along the sea. Although we were 
close to a weather shore, with our top-gallant masts down and 
yards braced sharp up, we hardly thought ourselves in secu- 
rity with three anchors down and plenty of chain cable out.* 

Dec. 31. Tired and impatient at the delay caused by bad 
weather, we put to sea again the first day there was a hope of 
not being driven eastward ; and during a fortnight we tried hard 
to work our way towards Christmas Sound. My purpose was 
to land York Minster and Fuegia Basket among their own 
people, near March Harbour, and return eastward through 
the Beagle Channel, landing Jemmy Button also with his 
tribe, the Tekeenica. Part of Whale-boat Sound and the wes- 
tern arms of the Beagle Channel were to be surveyed : and by 
this scheme I proposed to combine both objects. 

Jan. 2d. We were rather too near the Diego Ramirez 
Islands, during a fresh gale of wind, with much sea ; but by 
carrying a heavy press of sail, our good little ship weathered 
them cleverly, going from seven and a half to eight knots an 
hour, under close-reefed topsails and double-reefed courses — 
the top-gallant-masts being on deck. 

On the 5th, the same islands were again under our lee — a 
sufficient evidence that we did not make westincr. In fact, no 
sooner did we get a few reefs out, than we began taking them 

* Durinjj; such sudden, and at times tremendous squalls as these, it is 
absolutely necessary to have a long scope of cable out, although the ves- 
sel may be in smooth water, in order that the first fury of the blast may be 
over before the cable is strained tight ; for otherwise, the chain or anchor 
might snap. When the violence of the squall is past, the weight of a 
chain cable sinking down, draws the ship a-head, so far as to admit of her 
recoiling again at the next williwaw ; thus, a kind of elasticity may be 
given to a chain, in some degree equivalent to that always possessed bv a 
hemp cable. 

1833. GALES CllITICAL TIME. 125 

in again ; and although every change of wind was turned to 
account, as far as possible, but little ground was gained. 

On the 11th we saw that wild-looking height, called York 
Minster, ' looming ' among driving clouds, and I flattered my- 
self we should reach an anchorage ; but after tearing through 
heavy seas, under all the sail we could carry, darkness and a 
succession of violent squalls, accompanied by hail and rain, 
obliged me to stand to seaward, after being within a mile of 
our port. All the next day we were lying-to in a heavy gale 
— wearing occasionally. 

At three in the morning of the 13th, the vessel lurched so 
deeply, and the main-mast bent and quivered so much, that I 
reluctantly took in the main-topsail (small as it was when close- 
reefed), leaving set only the storm-trysails (close-reefed) and 
fore-staysail.* At ten, there was so continued and heavy a 
rush of wind, that even the diminutive trysails oppressed the 
vessel too much, and they were still farther reduced. Soon after 
one, the sea had risen to a great height, and I was anxiously 
watching the successive waves, when three huge rollers ap- 
proached, whose size and steepness at once told me that our 
sea-boat, good as she was, would be sorely tried. Having 
steerage way, the vessel met and rose over the first unharmed, 
but, of course, her way was checked ; the second deadened her 
way completely, throwing her off" the wind ; and the third 
great sea, taking her right a-beam, turned her so far over, that 
all the lee bulwark, from the cat-head to the stern davit, was 
two or three feet under water. 

For a moment, our position was critical ; but, like a cask, 
she rolled back again, though with some feet of water over the 
whole deck. Had another sea then struck her, the little ship 
might have been numbered among the many of her class which 
have disappeared : but the crisis was past — she shook the sea 
off" her through the ports, and was none the worse — excepting 

* I have always succeeded in carrying a close-reefed main-topsail (five 
reefs) in the Beagle, excepting on this and two other occasions ; but were 
I again under similar circumstances, I think I should try to carry it — 
even then — for some time longer. 


the loss of a lee-quarter boat, which, although carried three feet 
higher than in the former voyage (1826-1830), was dipped 
under water, and torn away.* 

From that time the wind abated, and the sea became less 
high.-}- The main-topsail was again set, though with difficulty, 
and at four o'clock the fore-topsail and double-reefed foresail 
were helping us towards False Cape Horn, my intention being 
to anchor in Nassau Bay. When the quarter-boat was torn 
away, we were between the Ildefonsos and Diego Ramirez : 
the wind varying from W.S.W. to S.W. 

This gale was severely felt on all parts of the coast, south 
of 48°, as I afterwards ascertained from sealing-vessels : and at 
the Falkland Islands, a French whaler, called Le Magellan, 
was driven from her anchors and totally wrecked in that land- 
locked and excellent port, Berkeley Sound. 

Some persons are disposed to form a very premature opinion 
of the wind or weather to be met with in particular regions, 
judging only from what they may themselves have expe- 
rienced. Happily, extreme cases are not often met with ; but 
one cannot help regretting the haste with which some men 
(who have sailed round Cape Horn with royals set) incline to 
cavil at and doubt the description of Anson and other navi- 
gators, who were not only far less fortvmate as to weather, but 
had to deal with crazy ships, inefficient crews, and unknown 
shores ; besides hunger, thirst, and disease. 

Before midnight we anchored under shelter of the land 

• It was well that all our hatchways were thoroughly secured, and that 
nothing heavy could break a-drift. But little water found its way to the 
lower deck, though Mr. Darwin's collections, in the poop and forecastle 
cabins on deck, were much injured. Next to keeping a sharp look-out 
upon the skj^, the water, and the barometer, we were always anxious to 
batten down our hatches in time — especially at night, during a gale, or j 
in very squally weather. 

t The roller which hove us almost on our beam ends, was the highest j 
and most hollow that I have seen, excepting one in the Bay of Biscay,] 
and one in the Southern Atlantic; yet so easy was our little vessel that! 
nothing was injured besides the boat, the netting (washed away), and one [ 


near False Cape Horn ; and next morning (14th) crossed Nas- 
sau Bay in search of a convenient harbour near the Beagle 
Channel. Having found so much difficulty in getting to the 
westward by the open sea, I decided to employ boats in the 
interior passages, and leave the Beagle at a secure anchorage. 

Furious squalls prevented our effecting this purpose ; and we 
anchored for the night in Windhond Bay.* The following day 
(15th) we again tried to get to the head or north-west corner of 
Nassau Bay, but ineffectually, for repeated squalls opposed us, 
and at last obliged me to bear up for Goree Road ; one of the 
most spacious, accessible, and safe anchorages in these regions. 
Here, to my surprise, York Minster told me that he would 
rather live with Jemmy Button in the Tekeenica country than 
go to his own people. This was a complete change in his ideas, 
and I was very glad of it ; because it might be far better that 
the three, York, Jemmy, and Fuegia, should settle together. I 
little thought how deep a scheme master York had in contem- 

18th. Having moored the Beagle in security, and made 
arrangements for the occupation of those who were to remain 
on board, I set out with four boats (yawl and three whale- 
boats), carrying Matthews and the Fuegians, with all the stock 
of useful things which had been given to them in England, -|- 
A temporary deck having been put upon the yawl, she carried 
a large cargo, and was towed by the other boats when the 
wind was adverse. Matthews showed no sign of hesitation or 
reluctance ; on the contrary, he was eager to begin the trial to 
■which he had been so long looking forward. Messrs. Darwin, 
Bynoe, Hamond, Stewart, and Johnson, with twenty-four 
seamen and marines, completed the party. 

My intention was to go round the north-east part of Navarin 
Island, along the eastern arm of the Beagle Channel, through 
Murray Narrow, to the spot which Jemmy called his country : 

• So named by the Dutch in 1624, after one of their ships, the Wind- 

•]- By far the larger part of their property, including Matthews's outfit, 
was sent by Mr. Coates, Secretary of the Church Missionary Society. 

128 ARUANGEMENTs. Jan. 1833- 

there establish the Fuegians, with Matthews : — leave them 
for a time, while I continued my route westward to ex- 
plore the western arms of the channel, and part of Whale- 
boat Sound : and at my return thence decide whether Mat- 
thews should be left among the natives for a longer period, or 
return with me to the Beagle. 

But before I briefly relate this attempt to form a temporary 
settlement among the Fuegians, it may be advisable to give a 
general sketch of the aborigines who thinly people the south- 
ernmost regions of South America : including not only the 
various tribes of Fuegians (as far as we know them), but the 
Patagonians, and those natives of Western Patagonia who 
are supposed to be a remnant of the tribe called Chonos. 



Of the tribes which scantily people Patagonia and Tierra 
del Fuego, far less is yet known than might generally be 
expected. Although frequently seen by white men, and often 
holding intercourse with them, probably no person even mode- 
rately educated, excepting Falkner, has staid among them 
long enough to become acquainted with, and describe their 

His description of the aboriginal natives who, in his time 
(1740-80), roamed over the fertile ' Pampas' of Buenos Ayres, 
or the sterile plains of Patagonia ; of the western mountaineers ; 
and of those unconquerable tribes which repulsed the Peruvian 
Yncas, opposed Spanish conquerors, and are still independent, 
is so decidedly corroborated by Molina, by many Spanish 
authors, and by modern testimony, that in attempting to de- 
scribe the Patagonians, I shall try to unite his account (bear- 
ing in mind the time elapsed, and consequent changes) to the 
information which has been obtained during late years. 

Of the Fuegians, a few notices are to be found in narratives 
of various voyagers ; but the imperfect description here given 
is principally derived from the natives who went to England in 
the Beagle ; and from IMr. Low, who has seen more of them 
in their own country than any other person. 

About the middle of the last century, the aboriginal inhabi- 
tants of that portion of South America which lies between the 
parallels of thirty and forty, formed two principal divisions, 
more or less separated by the only real barrier existing in that 
extent of country, the Cordillera of the Andes, Those wlio 
lived eastward of the Andes were called ' Puel-che,' signifying 



east people; and those on the other side were known by the 
term ' Molu-che,' which signifies war people, or warriors : and 
these terms are still in habitual use. 

Numerous subdivisions have perplexed all whose attention 
has been attracted to the aboriginal population of Southern 
America. Falkner's account is the least confused, in every 
way the most probable, and agrees the best with what is now 
found to be the condition of that portion of uncivilized man. 
For our present purpose, I believe, it will be sufficient to 
remark, that the Puel-che and Molu-che called the tribes 
who lived towards the south, ' Tehuel-het'* and ' Huilli-che,' 
both of which terms signify people of the south. The Huilli- 
che were again divided into Pichi Huilli-che and Vuta Huilli- 
che ; ' pichi,' meaning little ; and ' vuta,' great. Both the 
Tehuel-het and the Vuta Huilli-che lived to the southward of 
forty degrees of latitude. A branch or tribe of the Tehuel-het 
who lived farthest towards the south, on the eastern side, 
had no horses, and that tribe was called ' Yacana-k unny,'-]- (foot 
people). Westward of those people, separated from them by a 
ridge of mountains, was a tribe called Key-uhue, Key-yus, or 
Key-es ; and northward, the Sehuau-kunny:J:. 

Falkner, in his account, rather confuses the habits of the 
Yacana-kunny with those of the Key-uhue, which is not to 
be wondered at, as he described those tribes solely from the 
accounts of others. The Key-uhue have neither 'bowls,' or 
balls (bolas), nor ' ostriches,"" (see Falkner, p. Ill), in their 
rugged tempestuous islands : neither do the Yacana-kunny 
' live chiefly on fish.' The former live on fish, while the 
latter kill guanacoes, birds, and seals. 

Between the Key-uhue and the Chonos tribe were the Poy- 
yus, or Pey-es, living on the sea-coast. The Chonos inhabited 
the Archipelago so called, and part of Chiloe. 

These three last-mentioned tribes — Key-uhue, Poy-yus, and 
Chonos — were called ' Vuta Huilli-che.' 

* Called by themselves ' Tehuel-kunny.' 

t ' Che,' ' het,' and ' kunny,' signify people, in different dialects, 

I The Sehuau-kunny are a part of the Tehuel-het. 


Rather than occupy time in attempting to give an account 
of the past state of these ever-varying tribes,— whose numbers 
have been so much altered, and v.'hose locations may be now 
changed, — I will endeavour to give some idea of the present 
condition, distribution, and probable numbers of the people 
called. Patagonians ; of the natives of Tierra del Fuego, or 
Fuegians, and of the western tribe called Chonos. By those 
who have frequented the Strait of Magalhaens or its vicinity, 
the latter are often called ' Canoe Indians;' and. the Patago- 
nians, ' Horse Indians.' 

The Patagonians (Tehuel-het) travel on horseback over the 
country between the River Negro and the Strait of Magalhaens; 
from the Atlantic to the Cordillera of the Andes. They have no 
boats or canoes of any kind ; and their disposition, habits, and 
language are very different from those of the Fuegians (Ya- 
cana-kunny, Key-uhue, and Poy-yus). Those who live in the 
north-eastern part of Tierra del Fuego have neither canoes nor 
horses. The natives of the southern and western islands, and 
of the shores of Otway and Skyring waters, also the people 
who live upon the western islands and coast of Patagonia, have 
canoes, but no horses. 

The Patagonians are now divided into four parties, each of 
which has a separate though ill-defined territory. Each of these 
parties has a leader, or cacique ; but they speak one language, 
and are evidently subdivisions of one tribe. When mutually 
convenient, they all assemble in one place : but if food be- 
comes scarce, or quarrels happen, each party withdi-aws to its 
own territory. At such times one body will encroach upon the 
hunting grounds of another, and a battle is the consequence. 
About four hundred adults, and a rather large proportion of 
children, are in each of these parties : the number of women 
being to that of the men as three to one. Near the Strait of Ma- 
galhaens about fourteen hundred Patagonians have been lately 
seen encamped together for a short time ; but usually there is 
only one horde, of about four hundred grown people, in that 

Less is known of the Yacana-kunny than of any other tribe, 



or portion of a tribe. It may consist of about six hundred 
men and women, besides children. 

Beyond a range of high mountains to the southward of the 
Yacana, is the tribe formerly called Key-uhue, now probably 
the Tekeenica. These are the smallest, and apparently the most 
wretched of the Fuegians. They inhabit the shores and neigh- 
bourhood of the Beaffle Channel. The number of adults in this 
tribe may be about five hundred. (Note 1.) 

To the westward, between the western part of the Beagle 
Channel and the Strait of Magalhaens, is a tribe now called 
Alikhoolip (which may be the Poy-yus), whose numbers 
amount perhaps to four hundred. 

About the central parts of Magalhaens Strait is a small and 
very miserable horde, whose name I do not know. Their usual 
exclamation is ' Pecheray !'' ' Pecheray !' whence Bougainville 
and others called them the Pecherais. For want of a more 
correct term I shall here use the same word. The number of 
adults among them is about two hundred. 

Near Otway and Skyring waters is a tribe, or fraction of 
a tribe, whose name I could not learn ; for the present I 
shall call them ' HuemuF — because they have many skins of a 
kind of roebuck, which is said to be the animal described by 
Molina as the ' Huemur *. Their number may be one hundred, 
or thereabouts. I am inclined to think that these Huemul 
Indians are a branch of the Yacana people, whom Falkner 
describes as living on both sides of the Strait. 

On the western coast of Patagonia, between the Strait of Ma- 
galhaens and the Chonos Archipelago, there is now but one 
tribe, in which there are not above four hundred grown people. 

Each of the tribes here specified speaks a language differing 
from that of any other, though, as I believe, not radically dif- 
ferent from the aboriginal Chilian. Some words are common to 
two or more tribes ; as may be seen by reference to the frag- 
ment of a vocabulary in the Appendix ; and differences must 
increase because neighbouring tribes are seldom at peace. 

The numbers above stated are mere estimations. The diffi- 
* See Note 2, at the end of this chapter. 


culty of obtaining either language or information from the 
Fuegians can only be well appreciated by those who have had 
intercourse with them, or with the New Hollanders; whose 
mimickry of what one says is as perplexing as the same trick 
is when speaking to the Fuegians. 

Allowing that theTehuel-het or Pata- 

gonians amount to 1,600 

Yacana 600 

Tekeenica 500 

Alikhoolip 400 

Pecheray 200 

Huemul 100, and 

Chonos , 400 

the total will be 3,800, which I 

do not think is five hundred in error : and I should say, in 
round numbers, that there are about four thousand adults 
south of the latitude of forty degrees, exclusive of Childe. 

By Patagonia is meant that part of South America which 
lies between the River Negro and the Strait of Magalhaens. 

Eastern Patagonia is the portion of this district which lies 
eastward of the Cordillera ; and Western Patagonia, the part 
lying between the summits of the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. 

Tierra del Fuego takes in all the islands southward of the 
Strait of Magalhaens (including Staten Land), as far as the 
Diego Ramirez islets. 

Before entering into a more detailed account of these abori- 
gines, I wiU try to give a slight general idea of their personal 
appearance ; of their horses and canoes ; of their houses and 
country ; in short, an outline sketch of that which is observed 
at the first glance of a stranger's eye. The minuter details, 
which will follow, may be tedious to many readers. 

Magalhaens first gave the name of Patagones to the natives 
whom he saw at Port San Julian in 1 520. They were of very 
large (gigantic) stature, and their feet, being wrapped in rough 
guanaco skin, by way of shoes, were remarked particularly 
Probably their footsteps in the sand were noticed, and excited 


some such exclamation as ' que patagones!' (what great feet !) 
patagon meaning a very large foot. — (See note 3.) 

Tierra del Fuego was also named by Magalhaens, because 
many fires were seen, in the night, upon that land. 

The aboriginal natives of Eastern Patagonia are a tall and 
extremely stout race of men. Their bodies are bulky, their 
heads and featui'es large, yet their hands and feet are compa- 
ratively small. Their limbs are neither so muscular nor so 
large boned as their height and apparent bulk would induce 
one to suppose : they are also I'ounder and smoother than those 
of white men. Their colour is a rich reddish-brown, between 
that of rusty iron and clean copper, rather darker than copper, 
yet not so. dark as good old mahogany.* But every shade of 
colour between that just mentioned and the lighter hue of a 
copper kettle, may be seen among individuals of various ages. 
Excepting among old or sickly people, I did not notice a 
tinge, of yellow : some of the women are lighter coloured — 
about the tint of pale copper — but none are fair, according to 
our ideas. 

Nothing is worn upon the head except their rough, lank, and 
coarse black hair, which is tied above the temples with a fillet 
of platted or twisted sinews. A large mantle, made of skins 
sewed together, loosely gathered about them, hanging from the 
shoulders to their ankles, adds so much to the bulkiness of their 
appearance, that one ought not to wonder at their having been 
called ' gigantic' I am not aware that a Patagonian has 
appeared, during late years, exceeding in height six feet and 
some inches ; but I see no reason to disbelieve Falkner''s account 
of the Cacique Cangapol, whose height, he says, was seven feet 
and some inches. When Falkner stood on tiptoe he could not 
reach the top of CangapoPs head. It is rather curious, that 
Byron could only just touch the top of the tallest man''s head 

• The colour of these aborigines is extremely like that of the Devon- 
shire breed of cattle. From the window of a room in which I am sitting-, 
I see some oxen of that bi-eed passing through the outskirts of a wood, and 
the partial glinnpses caught of them remind me strongly of the South 
American red men. 


whom he saw. Ever restless and wandering, as were the 
Tehuel-het, of which tribes that cacique was chief, might 
not Byron have measured Cangapol ? * Who disbelieves that 
the Roman Emperor, Maximinus, by birth a Thracian, was 
more than eight feet in height? yet who, in consequence^ 
expects all Thracians to be giants ? At present, among two 
or three hundred natives of Patagonia, scarcely half-a-dozen 
men are seen whose height is under five feet nine or ten ; and 
the women are tall in proportion. 

I have nowhere met an assemblage of men and women 
whose average height and apparent bulk approached to that of 
the Patagonians. Tall and athletic as are many of the natives 
of Otaheite, and other islands in the Pacific Ocean, there are 
also many among them who are slight, and of low stature. 
The Patagonians seem high-shouldered — owing perhaps to 
the habit of folding their arms in their mantles across the 
chest, and thus increasing their apparent height and bulk, 
as the mantles hang loosely, and almost touch the ground. 
Until actually measured, I could not believe that they were not 
much taller than was found to be the fact. 

But little hair shews itself on their faces or bodies. From 
the former it is studiously removed by two shells, or some 
kind of pincers. Although they do not augment the coarse- 
ness of their features by piercing either nose or lips, they dis- 
figure themselves not a little by red,-f- black,;!: or white§ paint, 
with which they make grotesque ornaments, such as circles 
around their eyes, or great daubs across their faces. Upon 
particular occasions, all the upper part of their body, from the 
waist upwards, is strangely decorated (or disfigured) by paint, 
awkwardly laid on with very little design. On their feet and 
legs are boots made out of the skins of horses' legs. Wooden 
spurs, if they cannot get iron ; sets of balls (bolas), and a long 
tapering lance of bamboo, pointed with iron, complete their 
equipment. These lances are seldom seen near the Strait of 
Magalhaens, but the natives are not always without them. 
The women are dressed and booted hke the men, with the 

* Byron's \'oyage, 1765. — Falkner, 1740-80. 
t Ochie. X Charcoal and oil. § Felspathic earth and oil. 



addition of a half petticoat, made of skins, if they cannot pro- 
cure foreign coarse cloth. They clean their hair, and divide 
it into two tails, which are platted, and hang down, one on each 
side. Ornaments of beads, bits of brass, or silver, or any 
similar trifles, are much prized, and worn in necklaces, or as 
bracelets ; sometimes also as ear-rings, or round their ankles. 
Mounted upon horses of an inferior size, averaging only about 
fourteen hands and a half in height, though rather well-bred, 
the Patagonians seem to be carried no better than the full- 
accoutred dragoons, who rode eighteen stone upon horses equal 
to twelve ; yet those horses, so slight in comparison with their 
masters, carry them at full speed in chase of ostriches or guana- 
coes; and we all know what our dragoon horses have done under 
tlieir heavily-weighted, but determined riders. With bridles of 
hide tied to the lower jaw, when there is not a Spanish bit, and 
a light saddle of wood, covered with some skins and placed 
upon others, a Patagonian rides hard when there is occasion — 
but frequently changes his horse. Many large dogs, of a 
rough, lurcher-like breed, assist them in hunting, and keep an 
excellent watch at night. (Note at end of Chapter VIII.) 

The toldos (huts) of these wanderers are in shape not unlike 
gipsy tents. Poles are stuck in the ground, to which others 
are fastened, and skins of animals, sewed together, form the 
covering, so that an irregular tilt-shaped hut is thus made. 
Three sides and the top are covered ; but the front, turned 
towards the east,'; is open. These toldos are about seven feet 
high, and ten or twelve feet square ; they are lower at the 
back, or western side, than in front, by several feet. These 
are their ordinary dwellings ; of other rather larger construc- 
tions a description will be given hereafter. 

The country inhabited by these Patagonians is open and, 
generally speaking, rather level, but with occasional hills and 
some extensive ranges of level-topped heights (steppes). There 
are very few trees, and water is scarce. The eye wanders over 
an apparently boundless extent of parched, yellow-looking 
semi-desert, where rain* seldom falls, and the sky is almost 

• Except during a few days in each year, or perhaps at intervals of 
two or three years, when it pours down in torrents. 



always cleai'. The heats of summer are very great ; but in 
winter, though the days are not cold, the frosts at night are 
severe ; and at all times of the year, in the day-time, strong 
'vinds sweep over the plains. 

The Yacana-kunny, natives of the north-eastern part of 
Tierra del Fuego, resemble the Patagonians in colour, stature, 
and clothing.* They seem to be now much in the condition in 
which the Patagonians must have been before they had horses.-f* 
Witli their dogs, with bows and arrows, balls (bolas), slings, 
lances, and clubs, they kill guanacoes, ostriches, birds, and seals. 

The north-eastern portion of Tierra del Fuego is a better 
country than Patagonia. The woody mountains of the south- 
western islands are succeeded, towards this north-east district, 
by hills of moderate height, partially wooded ; northward of 
which are level expanses, almost free from wood, but covered 
with herbage adapted to the pasturage of cattle. 

The climate is a mean between the extremes of wetness and 
drought, which are so much felt by the neighbouring regions ; 
and when a settlement is made, at some future day, in that 
part of the world, San Sebastian Bay, in the Yacana country, 
called by Narborough, King Charles South Land, would be 
an advantageous position for its site. J 

The Tekeenica, natives of the south-eastern portion of 
Tierra del Fuego, are low in stature, ill-looking, and badly 
proportioned. Their colour is that of very old mahogany, 
or rather between dark copper, and bronze. The trunk of 
the body is large, in proportion to their cramped and rather 
crooked limbs. Their rough, coarse, and extremely dirty black 
hair half hides yet heightens a villanous expression of the 
worst description of savage features. 

Passing so much time in low wigwams, or cramped in small 

* Excepting boots'. 

t See Magalhaens' first intervicAV. Burney, vol. i. p. 34. 

+ Falkner says (p. 93, speaking of this country), " It is evident that this 
place has the conveniences of wood, water, and soil ; and, if there could 
be found a tolerable hai'bour, it would be much more convenient for a 
colony, and have a better command of the passage to the South Sea than 
Falkland's Islands." 


canoes, injures the shape and size of their legs, and causes 
them to move about in a stooping manner, with the knees 
much bent ; yet they are very nimble, and rather strong. 

They suffer very little hair to grow, excepting on their 
heads. Even their eyebrows are almost eradicated— two muscle- 
shells serving for pincers. This aversion to the smaller tufts of 
hair does not extend to the thatch-like covering of their ugly 
heads, which is lank, covered with dirt, hanging about their ears, 
and almost over their faces. Just above their eyes it is jagged 
away by a broken shell, if they have not a piece of iron hoop 
for a knife, the pieces cut off being scrupulously burned. In 
height varying from four feet ten to five feet six, yet in the 
size of their bodies equalling men of six feet, of course they 
look clumsy and ill-proportioned ; but their hands and feet are 
rather small with respect to the size of their bodies, though not 
so in proportion to their limbs and joints, which, excepting the 
knees, are small. Their knees are all strained, and their legs 
injured in shape, by the habit of squatting upon their heels. 
Awkward and difficult as such a posture appears to us, it is to 
them a position of easy rest. 

Sometimes these satires upon mankind wear a part of the 
skin of a guanaco or a seal-skin upon their backs, and perhaps 
the skin of a penguin or a bit of hide hangs in front ; but often 
there is nothing, either to hide their nakedness or to preserve 
warmth, excepting a scrap of hide, which is tied to the side 
or back of the body, by a string round the waist. Even this 
is only for a pocket, in which they may carry stones for their 
slings, and hide what they pick up or pilfer. A man always 
carries his sling around his neck or waist, wherever he goes. 

Women wear rather more clothing, that is, they have nearly 
a whole skin of a guanaco, or seal, wrapped about them, and 
usually a diminutive apron. The upper part of the wrapper, 
above a string which is tied around the waist, serves to carry 
an infant. Neither men nor women have any substitute for shoes. 

No ornaments are worn in the nose, ears, or lips, nor on the 
fingers ; but of necklaces, and bracelets, such as they are, the 
women are very fond. With small diclls, or pieces of the bones j 


of birds, strung upon lines made of sinews, these necklaces and 
bracelets are made, when nothing preferable is to be found ; 
but beads, buttons, pieces of broken glass, or bits of fractured 
crockery- ware are most highly esteemed. 

The hair of the women is longer, less coarse, and certainly 
cleaner than that of the men. It is combed with the jaw of a 
porpoise, but neither platted nor tied ; and none is cut away, 
excepting from over their eyes. They are short, with bodies 
largely out of proportion to their height ; their features, 
especially those of the old, are scarcely less disagreeable than 
the repulsive ones of the men. About four feet and some 
inches is the stature of these she-Fuegians — by courtesy called 
women. They never walk upright : a stooping posture, and 
awkivard movement, is their natural gait. They may be fit 
mates for such uncouth men ; but to civilized people their ap- 
pearance is disgusting. Ver};^ few exceptions were noticed. 

The colour of the women is similar to that of the men. As 
they are just as much exposed, and do harder work, this is a 
natural consequence : besides, while children, they run about 
quite naked, picking up shell-fish, carrying wood, or bringing 
water. In the colour of the older people there is a tinge of 
yellow, which is not noticed in the middle-aged or young. 

Both sexes oil themselves, or rub their bodies with grease ; 
and daub tiieir faces and bodies with red, black, or white. 
A fillet is often worn round the head, which upon ordinary 
occasions is simply a string, made of sinews ; but if going to 
war, or dressed for show, the fillet is ornamented with white 
down, white feathers, or pieces of cloth, if they have obtained 
any from shipping. Small lances, headed with wood ; others, 
pointed with bone ; bows, and arrows headed with obsidian, 
agate, or jasper ; clubs ; and slings ; are the weapons used by 
the Tekeenica. 

The smoke of wood fires, confined in small wigwams, 
liurts their eyes so much, that they are red and watery ; the 
effects of their oiling, or greasing themselves, and then rub- 
bing ochre, clay, or charcoal, over their bodies ; of their often 
feeding upon the most ofiensive substances, sometinies in a 


State of putridity ; and of other vile habits, may readily be 

As a Tekeenica is seldom out of sight of his canoe or a wig- 
wam, a slight idea of these — his only constructions — should 
be given with this sketch. 

The canoe is made of several large pieces of bark, sewed 
together ; its shape is nearly that which would be taken by the 
strong bark of the trunk of a tree (twelve to twenty feet in 
length, and a foot, or two feet, in diameter), separated from 
the solid wood, in one piece. If this piece of bark were drawn 
together at the ends, and kept open by sticks in the middle, 
it would look rather like a Fuegian canoe. 

A Tekeenica wigwam is of a conical form, made of a 
number of large poles, or young trees, placed touching one 
another in a circle, with the small ends meeting. Sometimes, 
bunches of grass or pieces of bark are thrown upon the side 
which is exposed to the prevailing winds. No Fuegians, ex- 
cept the Tekeenica, make their huts in this manner. 

The country of this people may be briefly described by say- 
ing that deep but narrow arms of the sea intersect high moun- 
tainous islands, many of whose summits are covered with snow, 
while the lee or eastern sides of their steep and rocky shores are 
more than partially covered with evergreen woods. 

Between projecting rocky points are sandy or stony beaches, 
fronting very small spaces of level land, on which the huts of 
the natives are generally placed. Almost throughout the year, 
cloudy weather, rain, and much wind prevail ; indeed, really 
fine days are very rare. Being so near the level of that great 
climate agent, the ocean, frost and snow are far less frequent 
than might be expected in a high latitude, among snow-covered 
mountains, of which the siffht alone inclines one to shiver. 

The men of the Alikhoohp tribe are the stoutest and har- 
diest, and the women the least ill-looking of the Fuegians. 
Though not very dissimilar, they are superior to the Tekeenica ; 
but they are inferior to the Yacana, and far below the natives of 
Patagonia. Their canoes are rather better than those of the 
Tekeenica, made, however, in the same manner. 



YAPOO y.h 


r'LCANA v. /J 

pEC'TiEHAr ■HA'M, 

[F 1! '17. © A Kl S 

ilenrv CoTbum. Crc&l ll9rR)orMai2i 3ir<vt,lSlV 


The wigwams of the Alikhoolip, and indeed of all the 
Fuegians, except the Tekeenica (and perhaps some of the 
Yacana, whom we have not seen), are shaped like bee-hives. 
Their height is not above four or five feet above the ground ; 
but an excavation is usually made within, which gives another 
foot, making about five feet and a-half of height, inside, 
and they are two, three, or four yards in diameter. Branches 
of trees stuck in the ground, bent together towards the top, 
form the structure, upon which skins, pieces of bark, and 
bunches of coarse grass are roughly fastened. Of course, 
neither these nor the Tekeenica wigwams are wind or water 
tight, neither does the smoke need a chimney. 

The country and climate of the Alikhoolip are similar to 
the Tekeenica, though wetter, more windy, and more disa- 
greeable. Both men and women are better covered with seal 
or otter skins than the Tekeenica and Pecheray tribes. When 
surprised, or sure that they would not be plundered, the women 
of this tribe were always seen wrapped in large otter or seal 

The natives of the central parts of Magalhaens Strait appear 
to be almost as miserable a race as the Tekeenica. As in nothing 
but language, and the construction of their wigwams, is there 
any difference which has yet been found out (though probably 
existing), I shall say no more of them in this place. 

Their climate is nearly the same as that of the Alikhoolip ; 
and the country is similar, though more wooded in many 
places, because more sheltered. 

Those whom I have hitherto called Huemul, who live near 
the Otway and Skyring Waters, seem to be a mixed breed, 
rather resembling the Yacana, of which tribe they are probably 
a branch. In habits, as well as in appearance, they partake of 
some of the peculiarities of Patagonians as well as Fuegians. 
Their country is like the Yacana — Tierra del Fuego blending 
or sinking into Patagonia, sharing the qualities of each region, 
and therefore preferable to either. They have very few canoes ; 
and no horses: but large dogs are used by them in hunting 
the huemul and guanaco. 


The tribe mentioned in a following page, which was met 
by Mr. Low at the north side of Fitz-Roy Passage, must 
have been chiefly composed of slaves (zapallos). The Huemul 
tribe is not numerous, and having plenty of land, with abun- 
dance of food, would hardly quit their own territory to submit 
to a Patagonian Cacique. These natives are neither inclined 
to serve a master, nor to learn new habits : besides, being 
separated from the Horse Indians by a little channel, they 
could not easily be caught, and obliged to remain with the 
Patagonians, as some persons have supposed. 

The Chonos, who live on the western shores and islands of 
Patagonia, are rather like the Alikhoolip, but not quite so stout 
or so daring. In general they are less savage than the Fuegians ; 
and though their habits of life are similar, traces are visible 
of former intercourse with the Spaniards, which doubtless 
has tended to improve their character. 

Prior to the Spanish conquest, the Chonos Indians inhabited 
Chiloe and the Chonos Archipelago ; but that now they are 
all south of Cape Tres Montes, there is good reason to sup- 
pose, though certainly no positive proof. The canoes of these 
Chonos Indians are made of planks, sewed together ; and they 
are rowed with oars. Generally there is a cross at one end of 
the canoe, or rather boat. Their wigwams are like those 
already mentioned of the bee-hive form. 

The climate of Western Patagonia is so disagreeable that the 
country is almost uninhabitable. Clouds, wind, and rain are 
continual in their annoyance. Perhaps there are not ten days 
in the year on which rain does not fall ; and not thirty on 
which the wind does not blow strongly ; yet the air is mild, 
and the temperature surprisingly uniform throughout the year. 
The country is like the worst part of Tierra del Fuego — sk 
range of mountains, half sunk in ocean ; barren to seaward,s 
impenetrably wooded towards the mainland, and always' 
drenched with the waters of frequent rain, which are never dried, 
up by evaporation before fresh showers fall. 

Having thvis endeavoured to give a slight general idea of the 
more obvious peculiarities of these, the most southern abori- 


gines on the globe, I will enter into rather more detail, even at 
the risk of being prolix. As there is much similarity in the 
habits of all the tribes above-mentioned who use canoes, and we 
know little of the Yacana, I shall speak of the Horse Indians, 
generally, in the first place ; and of the Canoe Indians, as 
one body, in the second. 

Note 1. — There is so much difficulty in deciding upon the orthogra- 
phy of words whose sounds are variously given by individuals even of the 
same tribe, and which, caught by ears of varying acuteness, are written 
down according to the pronunciation of different languages, that one may 
trace some connexion between the names Key-es, Key-yus; Keyuhues 
or Keyuhue ; Kekenica, or Tekeenica, and Kenneka. This last term 
is taken from Van Noort. (Burney, vol ii. p. 215.) Perhaps the country 
there called ' Coin' may be that inhabited by Jemmy Button's Oens-men. 

2. Molina's description of the Huemul is said by naturalists to be un- 
satisfactory and inconclusive ; therefore, whether it is an animal hitherto 
unnoticed (except by him), or the ' kind of roebuck,' mentioned in page 
132, remains to be decided. See Molina, vol. i. p. 364. 

3. Pennant, in his ' Literary Life,' quotes Cavendish's as well as Brou- 
wer's measurement of footsteps eighteen inches long ! As Pennant was 
personally acquainted with Falkuer, and collected much information 
respecting the Patagonians from other sources likewise, I have inserted 
a short extract from his work in the Appendix to this volume. The 
original book is now becoming scarce, and some of the notices contained 
in it are very interesting in connexion with this subject. 

While I Wiis revising my manuscript journal. Sir Woodbine Parish 
had the kindness to lend me ' Viedma's Diary,' with permission to make 
use of it : and, finding some interesting notices of the Patagonians which 
were quite new to me, 1 have added to the appendix of this volume a 
verbatim extract from Viedma, which I think will repay the curious 
reader, especially where their ideas of the transmigration of souls are 



Head — Physiognomy — Stature — Wanderings — Clothing — Armour — 
Arms — Food — Chase — Property — Huts — Wizards — Marriage — Chil- 
dren — Health — Illness — Death — Burial — War — Horsemanship — 
Gambling — Caciques — Superstitions — Warfare — Morality — Disposi- 
tion — Chups — Zapallos. 

The head of a Patagonian is rathei* broad, but not high ; 
and, except in a few instances, the forehead is small and low. 
His hair hangs loosely : it is black, coarse, and very dirty. A 
fillet which is worn around the top of the head may be intended 
as an ornament, for it is certainly of no use. The brow is 
prominent : the eyes are rather small, black, and ever restless. 
Deficiency of eyebrow adds to the peculiar expression of their 
eyes; and a mixture of simplicity and shrewdness, daring 
and timidity, with that singular wild look which is never seen 
in civilized man, is very conspicuous in the Patagonians. Its 
immediate effect is to remind one of the necessity of being 
always on guard while within reach : yet of all savage nations, 
perhaps the Patagonians are least inclined to attack or deceive 

In general, the women's stature, physiognomy, and dress, so 
much resemble those of the men, that, except by their hair, it 
is difficult for a stranger to distinguish them. 

By nature they have but little hair on either face or body, 
and that little they try to eradicate. Their faces are roundish, 
and the width or projection of the cheek-bones makes them 
look unusually wide. The nose is a little depressed, narrow 
between the eyes, but broad and fleshy about the nostrils, 
which are rather large. The mouth is large and coarsely 
formed, with thick lips. Their teeth are often very good,, 
though rather large ; and those in front have the peculiarity, 
which will be discussed when speaking of the Fuegians, of being 
flattened, solid, and shewing an inner substance. The chin is 



usually broad and prominent : all the features, indeed, are 
large, excepting the eyes. The expression of their countenances 
is open and honest (compared with other savages), and their 
intrepid, contented look is rather prepossessing. The unhe- 
sitating manner in which, unarmed, they trust themselves among 
strangers whom they never before saw, or venture on board 
ship, even under sail in the offing (if they can obtain a pas- 
sage in the boat), and go voluntarily from place to place with 
their white acquaintances, is very remarkable. 

Of the stature and bulk of these Indians I have already 
spoken. It appears to me that those who now live on the 
northern side of Maffalhaens"' Strait are descendants of the Pata- 
gonians whose size excited so much surprise and discussion ; 
and that, occasionally, individuals have exceeded the common 
height. Speaking of Cangapol, whose chief resort was the 
vicinity of the river Negro, though he and his tribe were rest- 
less wanderers, Falkner says — " This chief, who was called by 
the Spaniards the ' Cacique bravo,' was very tall and well pro- 
portioned. He must have been seven feet and some inches in 
height, because, on tiptoe, I could not reach to the top of his 
head. I was very well acquainted with him, and went some 
journeys in his company. I do not recollect ever to have seen 
an Indian that was above an inch or two taller than Cangapol. 
His brother, Sausimian, was but about six feet high. The 
Patagonians are a large-bodied people ; but I never heard of 
that gigantic race which others have mentioned, though I have 
seen persons of all the different tribes of southern Indians." In 
another place he says, " there is not a part of all this extremity 
of the continent that some of these wandering nations do not 
travel over frequently."" Of their wanderings, many persons 
besides myself and those with me can bear witness. Patago- 
nians, who were personally known by officers of the Beagle, 
were seen by them at the Spanish (now the Buenos Ayrean) 
settlement, Del Carmen, near the mouth of the river Negro, in 
September 1832; and by Mr. Low, at their usual abode, near 
the Strait of Magalhaens, in February 1833. The individual 
who was then most noticed, a half-breed Indian woman, named 



Maria,* once persuaded some of her companions to go with her 
to the Falkland islands, in a vessel commanded by Mr. Matthew 
Brisbane. They went, staid there some weeks, and returned in 
the same vessel, highly delighted by all the novelties, excepting 
sea-sickness. The chief wizard of the tribe was one of the 
party. ]\Iaria was then a person of much consequence, being 
almost their only interpreter, and the wife of a principal person. 
Her own history must be curious : she was born at Asuncion, 
in Paraguay ; and has a son who is a cacique. 

The mantles are curiously painted, usually on one side only, 
but some have had the hair rubbed off and are painted on 
both sides. They are very neatly sewed together with thread 
made out of the split sinews of ostriches, which is the strongest 
and most durable material they can procure. Making mantles 
is one of the occupations of the women. The paint used is 
found on the hills : it is an earthy substance, of various colours. 
Moistened with water, and made into the shape of crayons, 
pieces of this substance are dried in the sun ; and when used, 
one end of the crayon is dipped in water and rubbed on the 
part to be coloured. These mantles are tied about the neck, 
and usually round the middle, by sinew cords. Often the upper 
part is dropped, and the body left quite exposed above the 
waist, and while in active exercise on horseback, this is usually 
the case, if the mantle is not then entirely discarded. This 
substantial substitute for clothinff is made with skins of the 
animals of their country ; and among those of guanaco, puma, 
fox, skunk (a kind of weasel or polecat), cavy, dog, otter, seal, 
and colt, the most esteemed are the small grey fox skins. 
A kind of ' maro' is sometimes worn by the men ; and their 
boots, I have already said, are made out of the hock part of 
the skins of mares' and colts' legs. After being cleaned from 
fat, or membranous substances, dried, and then made pliable 
with grease, these ready-shaped boots require neither sewing 
nor soles. Wooden substitutes for spurs ai*e worn, if iron can- 
not be procured. 

For warlike purposes the men clothe themselves in three of 
• Frequently mentioned by Captain King' in vol. i. 


their thickest mantles : the two outer ones have no hair, but 
are gaily painted : all three are worn like ponchos. On their 
heads they then wear conical caps, made of hide ; and sur- 
mounted by a tuft of ostrich feathers. Another kind of armour, 
■worn by those who can get it, is a broad-brimmed hat, or helmet, 
made of a doubled bulFs hide : and a tunic, or frock, with a 
high collar, and short sleeves, made of several hides sewed toge- 
ther ; sometimes of anta skins, but always of the thickest and 
most solid they can procure. It is very heavy, strong enough 
to resist arrows or lances, and to deaden the blow of a stone 
ball (bola perdida) ; but it will not turn the bullet fired from 
a musket. Some say that it will do so, but that which I saw 
had been pierced through, in the thickest part, by the musket- 
ball which killed the wearer. When obliged to fight on foot, 
they use a shield made of hides sewed together (clypeus sep- 

Their arms are balls (bolas), lances, bows and arrows, clubs, 
and swords when they can get them. But in hasty, unfore- 
seen skirmishes, they engage in as light order as the more 
northern Indians, without head-cover or mantle, stripped to 
their spurs, and armed only with lances and balls ; which latter 
they are never without. 

The balls, bowls, or bolas, called by themselves ' somai,' are 
two or three round stones, lumps of earth hardened, iron or 
copper ore, or lead. If made of earth or clay, the material is 
enclosed in small bags of green (fresh) hide, which, placed in the 
sun, contract so much, that they become like stones in hardness ; 
but these clay balls are not used by the Patagonians so much 
as by the Pampa Indians, in whose country stones or metals 
are so scarce that there probably the last-mentioned balls were 
invented. Two balls, connected by a thong of hide, two, three, 
or four yards in length, are called ' somai."" Three such balls, 
connected by thongs, equal to one another in length, with their 
inner ends united, are called ' achico.' Taking one ball in the 
right hand, the other two are whirled around several times, 
and the whole then thrown at the object to be entangled. 
There are also balls of less weight and size, made of marble, 



lead, or metallic ore, with shorter cords or thongs, which are 
for small animals. 

Sometimes two small balls, each of which has a cord about 
a yard in length, are fastened to the thong of the larger set. 
This is to entangle the victim more effectually. They do not 
try to strike objects with these balls, but endeavour to throw 
them so that the thong shall hit a prominent part ; and then, 
of course, the balls swing around in different directions, and 
the thongs become so 'laid up' (or twisted), that struggling 
only makes the captive more secure. They can throw them so 
dexterously, as to fasten a man to his horse, or catch a horse 
without bruising him. If an animal is to be caught without 
being thrown down suddenly — an inevitable consequence of 
these balls swinging round his legs while at full speed — a 
somai is thrown at his neck. The two balls hang do^vn, and 
perplex him so much by dangling about his fore-legs, that his 
speed is much checked ; and another set of balls, or a lasso, 
may be used, to secure, without throwing him down. The 
lasso is not much used, so adroit are they with the balls. A 
formidable missile weapon is the single ball, called by the 
Spaniards ' bola perdida.' This is similar to the other in size 
and substance, but attached to a slighter rope, about a yard 
long. Whirhng this ball, about a pound in weight, with the 
utmost swiftness around their heads, they dash it at their adver- 
sary with almost the force of a shot. At close quarters, it is 
used, with a shorter scope of cord, as an efficient head-breaker. 

Several of these original, and not trifling offensive weapons, 
are kept in readiness by each individual ; and many a Spa- 
niard, armed with steel and gunpowder, has acknowledged their 

The lance (chuza) is a long bamboo cane, from twelve to 
twenty-four feet long, headed with iron or steel. The great 
length and tapering shghtness of these spears makes them for- 
midable to any adversaries, but often fatal to those who are 
unskilful or timorous, because their vibration, artfully increased 
to the utmost by the holders, makes it extremely difficult to 
parry the advance of their point ; but, once parried thev are 

ARMS — women's dress. 149 

, useless — perhaps become encumbrances to their owners, who, 
if they do not turn and dash off at full speed, have recourse to 
their balls or to swords. Some have swords obtained from 
white men ; others fasten long blades (knife-blades, perhaps, or 
pieces of iron hoop, straightened and sharpened) to handles three 
or four feet in length. Their bows are three or four feet long ; 
and the arrows, about two feet in length, are headed with 
small triangular pieces of agate, jasper, obsidian, or even 
bone. But bows, arrows, shields, clubs, and heavy armour are 
daily less used ; and may we not infer, that arms and armour, 
suited to foot encounters — such as arrows, heavy clubs or 
maces, shields, and many-fold tunics — have been laid aside by 
degrees, as horses have multiplied in the country ? Fighting 
on foot is now seldom practised, except in personal quarrels. 
Falkner says, they used to envenom the points of their arrows 
with a species of poison, which destroyed so slowly, that the 
wounded person lingered for two or three months, till, reduced 
to a skeleton, he at last expired ; but I have not heard of 
such a practice among the southern aborigines in these days. 

Those Indians who have felt the effects of fire-arms, and 
own abundance of horses, the men of Araucania, who are the 
terror of the Pampa tribes, have long abolished armour and 
the arms of former wars — wars so well sung by Ercilla, in 
which they gained unfading honour in maintaining the free- 
dom of their country. Naked on their horses, armed with 
lances, swords, and balls, those men now rush like the whirl- 
wind — destroy — and are gone ! 

The women of Patagonia wear nothing on their heads ; their 
hair, parted before and behind, is gathered into two large 
tresses, one on each side. Ear-ornaments, necklaces, bracelets, 
and anklets, made of beads, pieces of brass, silver, or gold, 
are much esteemed. Their mantles are similar to those of the 
men ; but they are pinned across the breast by a wooden 
skewer, or a metal pin, and are gathered about the waist, 
hanging loosely almost to their ankles. A short apron, or 
half-petticoat, made with skins of small animals, or coarse cloth, 
is tied about their waist, under the mantle. It only covers 
them in front, and reaches to the knee. Boots, similar to those 

150 FOOD — CHASE. 

of the men, and additional clothes, are worn when they ridfe 
distances ; sitting astride, upon a heap of skins, which serve 
at niorht for beddinof. 

The principal subsistence of these Indians is the flesh of 
mares, ostriches, cavies, or guanacoes ; but though they are 
not pai-ticular, and eat almost anything that they catch, the 
flesh of young mares is preferred to any otiier. They broil their 
meat, and eat it with a lump of fat, and salt. The fat of mares 
and that of ostriches are boiled together and put into/bladders ; 
but the fat of guanacoes is eaten raw, being preferred in that 
state. There are two roots which they eat, one called tus, the 
other chalas. The tus is a bulbous root, growing wild, which 
when cleaned and baked, or rather roasted, becomes mealy, 
like a yam. They use it sometimes Avith their meat, but not 
often. The chalas is a long, white root, about the size of a 
goose-quill. It is either roasted in the embers or put into 
broth, which they make for women and sick people. When 
on the sea-coast, limpets and muscles are gathered by the 
women and children ; but fish or seals are seldom obtained. 
Dogs are not eaten, neither are horses, unless disabled by an 

Cattle are yet scarce in the southern regions, because pasture- 
land is rather deficient ; but about the lately-discovered river, 
Chupat, (lat. 43,21. S.) which, though small, is supposed to 
cross the continent, they are rather numerous, but their flesh 
is not thought equal to that of mares. 

The only prepared drink which they use, besides the decoc- 
tion of chalas, is the juice of barberries, mixed with water, and 
drank in its natural state. They have no fermented liquor. 

Hunting is both amusing and necessary to the men. They 
go out to the chase in parties, more or less numerous, accord- 
ing to the strength of the tribe, the scarcity of food, and the 
supply of horses. An extent of country is enclosed by the 
horsemen ; then drawing together, they drive before them all 
the animals ; till, when tolerably collected together, the cacique, 
or leading man of the party rides at an animal and throws it 
down mth his balls. All then set to work, and ball away in 
every direction. They do not stop because one animal falls, 



since not one in a hundred escapes by his own exertions when 
once entangled ; but another and another become the victims 
of a good hunter, before the collection escapes out of his reach. 
All their sets of balls being employed, and the game dispersed, 
thev begin to kill and divide. Each animal is knocked on the 
head with a ball, skinned, and cut into pieces, where it fell, 
and the pieces are then carried on horseback to their huts. 

After reaching their settlement, the produce of the chase is 
brought together, and divided among the different families, in 
proportion to their respective numbers. If one family has 
eaten its share sooner than others, some one of that hungry 
house goes to any party which has meat left, and cuts off what 
is wanted, without a question. 

A number of large dogs assist in the hunt : whether they 
scent the game I know not, but probably they run by eye, as 
so many animals are a-foot at once. Each regular hunter has 
a spare horse at hand ; the best horses being carefully reserved 
for war and the chase. Upon others they travel, place the 
women and children, and their property. 

The method of hunting abovementioned is that employed 
on set occasions ; but if only a few men are together, they 
surprise and chase, as they can. Sometimes they ride together, 
and chase whatever they see, whether ostrich, skunk, guanaco, 
fox, or puma. 

The wealth of these Indians consists chiefly in horses and 
dogs, the richer individuals having forty or fifty horses, and a 
large number of dogs ; the poorer, only one or two horses, and 
but one dog. 

The tents or huts called by themselves ' cow,' and by the 
Spaniards and their descendants, toldos (tolderia is the place 
of toldos, or Indian village, in Spanish), have already been 
partly described. Made of skins, sewed together and supported 
by poles, a tilt-like construction, open towards the east, is their 
hastily-formed dwelling. The top slopes towards the west 
side, which is not above two feet in height. The front is about 
six or seven feet high ; and the inside space about twelve 
feet by nine. Both poles and skins are carried with them when 


they migrate from place to place. Water does not lodge on the 
hide covering, neither does wind penetrate ; and as east winds 
ar3 very rare in Patagonia, a temporary screen, such as a few 
skins, suffices for protection against them. 

Two or three families sleep in one hut, unless it is the dwell- 
ing of a cacique, or person who has many wives. Poor people 
have but one wife. Those who are rich, and able to maintain 
them, have sevei-al wives — three, four, five, or even more. 

In places where some of the tribe stay constantly, and which 
are considered the head-quarters, or central rendezvous of a 
tribe, there are larger huts, almost deserving the name of houses. 
Some of these are for the cacique and his wives ; others are for 
the wizards, who, in their three-fold capacity of priests, magi- 
cians and doctors, have great influence over the superstitious 
minds of their countrymen. These larger dwelhngs are made 
with poles and skins, put together so as to form an oblong shed, 
with a sloping roof, shaped like a small cottage. The substi- 
tutes for walls are about five feet in height, and the roof is in 
the middle about eijjht feet from the ground. Some of these 
houses are four or five yards in width, and eight, ten, or twelve 
in length. I have never seen one myself ; but those who gave 
me other information, which I found true, said that there were 
such houses in the interior, and described them minutely to me. 

At night, skins are spread upon the ground to sleep on ; two 
or three rolled up, along the length of the back part of the 
tent or hut, form a pillow for the whole party, on which each 
family has its place, and the dogs lie at their feet. 

The children have a Uttle square place to themselves, in one 
corner. Infants in the cradle (a piece of hide with a thong 
fast to its four comers, by which it is suspended from the roof 
of the dwelling), are placed near their mother. 

Marriages are made by sale more frequently than by mutual 
agreement. Instead of receiving a dowry with his wife, a man 
pays a large price to her nearest relations. Sometimes girls are 
betrothed while very young, and a part of the stipulated price 
paid to the relations. Mutual inclination may sometimes 
determine the choice ; but payment must in every case be 



made, in proportion to the supposed value of the damsel, and 
the property of her purchaser. If a girl dislikes a match made 
for her, she resists, and although dragged forcibly to the hut of 
her lawful owner, plagues him so much by her contumacy, 
that he at last turns her away, or sells her to the person on 
whom she has fixed her affections ; but he seldom beats her, or 
treats her ill. Perhaps she does not wait to be so disposed of, 
but elopes and takes her choice of a protector ; who, if more 
powerful than the husband, obliges him to submit to the double 
loss, unless a cacique, or a powerful friend of the losing party, 
forces the gallant to restore her, or compromise the matter, 
and these affairs are in general easy to settle. It has been 
already mentioned that each man who possesses any property 
has usually more than one wife ; and that some few men, who 
have forty or fifty horses, and other riches in proportion, 
maintain four or five wives. 

" Women who have accepted their husbands with good-will 
are in general very faithful and laborious," says Falkner; 
" their lives are but one continued scene of labour ; for, besides 
nursing and bringing up children, they are obliged to do much 
drudgery." Except hunting, providing food, and fighting, all 
work is done by the women. Indeed they sometimes aid in 
battle. Some families have slaves who do household work ; 
but if they should have no slaves, not even the wives of a 
cacique are exempt from every-day labour. 

Men do not marry before they are about twenty years of 
age. Girls are married earlier: from fourteen or fifteen they 
are considered to be marketable commodities. Falkner says, 
" When once the parties are agreed, and have children, they 
seldom forsake each other, even in extreme old age. The hus- 
band protects his wife from all injuries, and always takes her 
part, even if she is in the wrong, which occasions frequent 
quarrels and bloodshed ; but this partiality does not prevent 
him from reprimanding her, in private, for engaging him in 
these disputes. 

" He very seldom beats her ; if she is found unfaithful he 
lays blame on the gallant, and, if able, punishes him severely ; 


unless the delinquent atones by some valuable gift. Some- 
times, at the command of a wizard, a man orders his wife to go 
to an appointed place, usually a wood, and abandon herself to 
the first person she meets. Yet there are women who refuse to 
comply with such orders." 

When it does happen that a man and his Avife quarrel, the 
woman is sometimes punished by having her two tails rather 
savagely pulled. I have been told that the husband scarcely 
ever beats her, except in the height of passion. 

Children are left to take care of themselves soon after 
they can walk. With sets of little balls (bolas) they annoy the 
dogs not a little, practising their future occupation. While very 
young they climb upon old, or quiet, horses' backs. If a young 
guanaco is caught and tamed, or a bird with its wings 
clipped hops about the tolderia, the little ones have fine sport. 
While infants are suckling, the mothers use frames or cradles 
in which their charges are carried about : they are made of 
flat pieces of wood, with a few semi-circular guards of lath, or 
thin branches, whose ends are fixed into holes in the wood. In 
such frames, between pieces of guanaco skin, the babies are 
placed ; and while travelling, these cradles are hung at the 
mothers' saddle-bows. The children are much indulged. 
Falkner says, " The old people frequently change their ha- 
bitations to humour the caprices of their children. If an 
Indian, even a cacique, wish to change his abode, and the 
tribe with whom he is living do not choose to part with him, it 
is customary to take one of his children, and pretend such a 
fondness for it, that they cannot part with the little favourite. 
The father, fond of his child, and pleased that it is so much 
liked, is induced to remain." 

Yet with all this apparent goodness of disposition, in moments 
of passion, these Indians have been seen to be like other 
savages, disgraced by the worst barbarity. Neither man, 
•woman, wife, nor even a smiling innocent child, is safe from 
that tiger in human shape — a savage in a rage. " Nunca, 
nunca fiarse de los Indios," is a Spanish maxim, as well founded 
as it is common. 


. Education, and the beneficial effects of the opinions of others, 
an influence fully felt only in civilized society, have so tamed 
and diminished the naturally strong passion of anger, with its 
sequel, immediate violence, or hatred and revenge, that ima- 
gination must be called to the assistance of those who, hap- 
pily, have never seen a furious savage. 

Who can read that instance of child murder, related so well 
by Byron, in his narrative of the Wager's wreck, without a 
shudder ? yet the man who, in a moment of passion, dashed 
his own child against the rocks, would, at any other time, 
have been the most daring, the most enduring, and the most 
self-devoted in its support and defence ! (Appendix No. 14.) 
Generally speaking, the Patagonians are extremely healthy. 
Their constitutions are so good that wounds heal rapidly : but 
they are not ignorant of the healing properties of some herbs ; 
nor of the purgative qualities of others. They know the effect 
of bleeding, and can adroitly open a vein with a sharp piece 
of shell or flinty stone. 

When sick, the chalas root, pounded and mixed with water, 
is a favourite specific. Should this, or the few other remedies 
which they think they know, fail, the wizard (who is also 
doctor) performs some absurd ceremonies, and then rattles toge- 
ther two pieces of dry bladder, in which are some loose stones, 
in order to frighten away the ' Valichu,' or evil spirits, who are 
opposing their art, and tormenting the unlucky patient. The 
diabolical noise caused by rattling these dried bladders, is con- 
tinued until the disease takes a favourable turn, or the sufferer 
dies. If death ends the scene, the body is wrapped in the best 
mantle of the deceased, placed on his favourite horse, and car- 
ried to the burying-place of the tribe. The wizard rattles, 
and the other people howl over the corpse as it is carried to the 
sepulchre. In a square pit, about six feet deep, and two or 
three feet wide, where many others have been deposited, 
the corpse is placed in a sitting posture, adorned with mantles, 
plumes of feathers, and beads. The spurs, sword, balls, and 
other such property belonging to the deceased, are laid 
beside him ; and the pit is then covered over with branches of 



trees, upon which earth is laid. His favourite horse is after^ 
wards killed. It is held at the grave while a man knocks it on 
the head with one of the balls of the deceased. When dead, it 
is skinned and stuffed, then, supported by sticks (or set up) 
upon its legs, with the head propped up, as if looking at the 
grave. Sometimes more horses than one are killed. At the 
funeral of a cacique four horses are sacrificed, and one is set up 
at each corner of the burial place. The clothes and other 
effects belonp'ing: to the deceased are burned : and to finish 
all, a feast is made of the horses' flesh. 

But there are also other modes of disposing of dead bodies : 
and as I am certain that at least two of them are practised by 
the Patagonians of the present day, and we are assured by 
Falkner that other methods, one of which was carrying them 
into the desert by the sea-coast, were customary in his time, 1 
shall here repeat what he says on the subject (p. 118). 

" The burial of the dead and the superstitious reverence 
paid to their memory, are attended with great ceremony. When 
an Indian dies, one of the most distinguished women among 
them is immediately chosen to make a skeleton of his body ; 
which is done by cutting out the entrails, which they burn to 
ashes, dissecting the flesh from the bones as clean as possible, 
and then burying them under ground till the remaining flesh 
is entirely rotted off, or till they are removed (which must be 
within a year after the interment, but is sometimes within two 
months) to the proper burial-place of their ancestors. 

" This custom is strictly observed by the Molu-che, Taluhet, 
and Diuihet,* but the Chechehet and Tehuelhet, or Patago- 
nians, place the bones on high, upon canes or twigs woven 
together, to dry and whiten with the sun and rain. 

" During the time that the ceremony of making the skeleton 
lasts, the Indians, covered with long mantles of skins, and 
their faces blackened with soot, walk round the tent, with long 
poles or lances in their hands, singing in a mournful tone of 
voice, and striking the ground, to frighten away the Valichus, 

* The Taluhet, Chechehet, and Diuihet, were tribes of Puel-che. 


or evil spirits. Some go to visit and console the widow, or 
widows, and other relations of the dead, that is, if there is any 
thing to be got ; for nothing is done but with a view of interest. 
During this visit of condolence they cry, howl, and sing in the 
most dismal manner ; straining out tears, and pricking their 
arms and thighs with sharp thorns, to make them bleed. For 
this shew of grief they are paid with glass beads, brass casca- 
bels and such like baubles, which are in high estimation among 
them. The horses of the dead are also immediately killed, 
that he may have wherewithal to ride upon in the ' alhue 
mapu,' or country of the dead, reserving only a few to grace 
the last funeral pomp, and to carry the relics to their proper 

" When they remove the bones of their dead, they pack 
them up together in a hide, and place them upon one of the 
deceased's favourite horses, kept alive for that purpose, which 
they adorn after their best fashion, with mantles, feathers, &c., 
and travel in this manner, though it be to the distance of three 
hundred leagues, till they arrive at the proper burial-place, 
where they perfonn the last ceremony. 

" The Molu-che, Taluhet, and Diuihet, bury their dead in 
large square pits, about a fathom deep. The bones are put 
together, and secured by tying each in its proper place, then 
clothed with all the best robes they can get, adorned with beads, 
plumes, &c., all of which they cleanse or change once a year. 
They are placed in a row, sitting, with the sword, lance, bow 
and arrows, bowls, and whatever else the deceased had while 
alive. These pits are covered over with trees, canes, or branches 
woven together, upon which they put earth. An old matron 
is chosen out of each tribe, to take care of these graves, and 
on account of her employment is held in great veneration. 
Her office is to open every year these dreary habitations, 
and to clothe and clean the skeletons. Besides all this they 
every year pour upon these graves some bowls of their first 
made chicha, and drink some of it themselves to the good 
health of the dead. (N. B. Not the Tehuelhet.) 

" These bvuying places are, in general, not far distant from 


their ordinary habitations; and they place, all around, the 
bodies of their dead horses, raised upon their feet and supported 
with sticks. 

" The Tehuelhet, or more southern Patagonians, differ in 
some respects from the other Indians. After having dried the 
bones of their dead, they carry them to a great distance from 
their habitations, into the desert by the sea-coast ; and after 
placing them in their proper form, and adorning them in the 
manner before described, they set them in order above ground, 
under a hut or tent erected for that purpose, with the skeletons 
of their dead horses placed around them. 

" In the expedition of the year 1746, some Spanish soldiers, 
with one of the missionaries, travelling about thirty leagues 
within land, to the west of Port San Julian, found one of these 
Indian sepulchres, containing three skeletons, and having as 
many dead horses propped up around it." 

In the expeditions of the Adventure and Beagle, between 
1826 and 1834, a few burial places of another kind were exa- 
mined. These were piles of stones, upon the summits of the 
highest hills, on the eastern sea-coast. Some had been thrown 
down and ransacked ; probably by the crews of sealing vessels: 
others there was no opportunity of visiting : only one untouched 
pile was found : and that one was examined by Lieutenant 
Wickham. It was on a height, near Cape Dos Bahias, in latitude 
forty-five south. Only bones were found, in a much decayed 
state, under a pile of stones about four feet high ; and from 
the remains of the bones Mr. Bynoe ascertained that they had 
belonged to a woman of the ordinary stature. A pile of stones 
on a neighbouring height had been pulled down by the crew 
of a sealing vessel : under it were fragments of decayed bones, 
which were thought too much injured by time and weather to 
be worth removing; indeed they crumbled to the touch. 
Under similar heaps of stones the ' gigantic skeletons' which 
some voyagers have described, were said to have been found. 

Doubtless these several methods of disposing of the dead 
are not those of one horde only, but of various tribes. But 
I prefer mentioning all that is yet known of the subject, as 


far as I am aware,* and leaving it for better-informed persons 
to decide upon the particular habits of each subdivision. Would 
any one tribe bury each of the five following persons in a simi- 
lar manner, and in the same place ? A powerful cacique — a 
wizard — a woman — an ordinary man — a child ? 

" The widow or widows of the dead are obliged to mourn 
and fast for a Avhole year after the death of their husband. 
This consists in keeping themselves close shut up in their huts, 
without having communication with any one, or stirring out, 
except for the common necessaries of life ; in not washing their 
faces or hands, but being blackened with soot, and having their 
garments of a mournful appearance ; in abstaining from horse's 
and cow's flesh, and, within land where they are plenty, from 
the flesh of ostriches and guanacoes ; but they may eat any 
thing else. During the year of mourning, they are forbidden 
to marry, and if, within this time, a widow is discovered to 
have had any communication with a man, the relations of her 
dead husband will kill them both, unless it appears that there 
has been violence. But I did not discover that the men were 
obliged to any such kind of mourning on the death of their 
wives." (Falkner, p. 119.) 

Manslaughter is not infrequent. When quarrels arise, the 
parties draw their knives, or take such weapons as are at 
hand, and fight, if not parted, till one is killed. War often 
occurs between the smaller tribes, but does not last long. 
When the small tribes unite against another nation, such 
as the Molu-che, or the Puel-che of the north, their pre- 
parations are more serious, and their hostilities of far longer 

When at war, or expecting an attack, the Patagonians exer- 
cise on horseback, in their armour, every other evening. Fre- 
quently the occasion of hostility is an encroachment upon the 
territories of a neighbouring tribe, either for hunting or plun- 
der. War is, in such case, instantly declared by the insulted 

* Except about the tomb which is described by Captain King in the 
first volume. 


party. In armour, and upon their best horses, they sally forth 
to meet the intruders. Having met, they ask why their land 
has been invaded, and desire the strangers to return to the 
place whence they came. The non-compliance of the intruders 
is a signal for action ; they close — fight — and one party, being 
vanquished, loses all its property. The manner of fighting has 
already been mentioned. 

The horsemanship of the Patagonians is not equal to that of 
the northern Indians : yet it is not indifferent. From their 
weight, and the openness of their country, they do not habi- 
tually ride so hard, or practise so many manoeuvres as the 
Araucanian,* who can hang at the side of his horse while at 
speed, directing him by voice and rein ; or even while going 
through a wood can cling quite beneath his belly for a short 
time, still urging on and directing him ; but such feats, per- 
formed by naked men, who are almost centaurs, surpass the 
powers, or rather the dexterity, of the bulky, well-fed, and 
heavily-clothed Patagonian. 

The Patagonians are very fond of racing. At almost every 
leisure hour either horses or play engage their attention, for 
they are also great gamblers. Race-courses are regularly 
marked out, but they are very short, not a quarter of a mile in 
length. These short bursts at the utmost speed seem absurd, 
till one considers that in hunting wild animals, attacking or 
escaping fx-om the sudden attack of an adversary, such short 
starts are of the utmost importance. They bet upon the horses, 
and sometimes stake even their wives and their children. 
Payment is faithfully made, even to the uttermost. The 
cards with which they play are pieces of skin, with figures 

* The Araucanian hangs at one side of his horse to shelter himself 
from the lances, halls, or shot of his adversaries, or to avoid trees. At 
a distance, a troop of these Indians advancing irregularly, might seem 
to an inexperienced eye merely loose horses, of which so many are seen 
in the Pampas ; but to another Indian, or to a trained gaucho, the 
attempt to conceal themselves would avail them nothing, because the 
horses' action, and manner of going, would, at a glance, show him that 
they were guided by riders. 


painted upon them : perhaps rough imitations of the cards 
used by the Spaniards ; but this may be doubted. 

According to Falkner, the native of Patagonia is a super- 
stitious polytheist. I cannot add to, nor have I reason to 
doubt his account ; and shall therefore repeat what he says on 
this subject, abridging it slightly. 

" The Indians imagine that there is a multiplicity of deities, 
some good, others evil. At the head of the good deities is 
Guayara-kunny, or the lord of the dead. The chief evil agent 
is called Atskannakanatz, or Valichu. This latter name is 
applied to every evil demon.* 

" They think that the good deities have habitations in vast 
caverns under the earth, and that when an Indian dies his soul 
goes to live with the deity who presides over his particular 

" They believe that their good deities made the world, and 
that they first created the Indians in the subterranean caverns 
above mentioned ; gave them the lance, the bow and arrows, 
and the balls, to fight and hunt with, and then turned them out 
to shift for themselves. They imagine that the deities of the 
Spaniards created them in a similar manner, but that, instead 
of lances, bows, &c., they gave them guns and swords. They 
say that when the beasts, birds, and lesser animals were 
created, those of the more nimble kind came immediately out 
of the caverns ; but that the bulls and cows being the last, the 
Indians were so frightened at the sight of their horns, that they 
stopped the entrances of their caves with great stones. This 
is the grave reason they give why they had no black cattle in 
their country, till the Spaniards brought them over ; who, 
more wisely, had let them out of their caves. 

* The Patagonians call the good deity the Creator of all things, but 
consider him as one who afterwards has no concern about them. He is 
styled by some Soucha, or chief in the land of strong drink ; by others, 
Guayara-kunny, or lord of the dead. The evil principle is called Hue- 
covoe, or the wanderer without. Other spirits are supposed to take care 
of particular people — protect their own and injure others : they are called 
Valichu. — Pennant, p. 61. 



" Some say that the stars are old Indians ; tliat the milky 
way is the field where the old Indians hunt ostriches, and that 
the Magrellan clouds are the feathers of the ostriches which 
they kill. They have an opinion that the creation is not yet 
exhausted ; nor all of it yet come out to the daylight of this 
upper world. The wizards, beating their drums, and rattling 
their hide-bags full of shells, or stones, pretend to see into 
other regions under the earth. Each wizard is supposed to 
have familiar spirits in attendance, who give supernatural in- 
formation, and execute the conjuror's will. They believe that 
the souls of their wizards, after death, are of the number of 
these demons, called Valichu, to whom every evil, or unplea- 
sant event is attributed. 

" Their religious worship is entirely directed to the powers 
of evil ; except in some particular ceremonies made use of in 
reverence to the dead. 

" To perform their worship they assemble together in the 
tent of the wizard, who is shut up from the sight of the rest 
in a corner. In this seclusion he has a small drum, one or two 
round calabashes or bags of dry hide, with small sea shells in 
them, and some square bags of painted hide in which he keeps 
his spells. He begins the ceremony by making a strange noise 
with his drum and rattle-bags ; after which he feigns a fit, or 
struggle with the evil spirit, who it is then supposed has 
entered into him ; keeps his eyes turned up, distorts his face, 
foams at the mouth, screws up his joints, and, after many vio- 
lent and distorting motions, remains stiff and motionless, resem- 
bling a man seized with an epilepsy. After some time he 
comes to himself, as having overcome the demon's influence ; 
next he feigns, behind his screen, a faint, shrill, mournful 
voice, as of the evil spirit, who, by this dismal cry, is sup- 
posed to acknowledge himself subdued ; and then the wizard, 
from a kind of tripod, answers all questions that are put to him. 

" Whether his answers are true or false, is of very little 
consequence ; because, if his intelligence should prove false, it 
is the fault of the demon, or Valichu. On all these occasions 
the wizard is well paid. 


" The profession of the wizards is very dangerous, notwith- 
standing the respect that is sometimes paid to them ; for it 
often happens, when an Indian chief dies, that some of the 
wizards are killed ; especially if they had any dispute with 
the deceased just before his death; the Indians, in this case, 
attributing the loss of their cacique to the wizards and their 
demons. In cases also of pestilence and epidemic disorders, 
when great numbers are carried off, the wizards often suflFer. 

" On account of the small-pox, which almost destroyed the 
Chechehet tribe, Cangapol ordered all the wizards to be killed, 
to see, if by such means, the distemper would cease. 

" There are wizards and witches. The former are obliged 
to dress in female apparel, and are not allowed to marry. The 
latter are not restricted. Wizards are generally chosen when 
children ; and a preference is always shewn to those who, at 
that time of life, discover an effeminate dispositio'n. They are 
clothed very early in female attire, and presented with the drum 
and rattles belonging to the profession which they are to follow. 
Those who are seized with fits of the falling sickness, or 
the ' Chorea Sancti Viti' (St. Vitus's dance), are immediately 
chosen for this employment, as selected by the demons them- 
selves ; whom they suppose to possess them, and to cause all 
those convulsions and distortions common in epileptic pa- 

The Patagonians, and indeed all the South-American 
aborigines, have faith in witchcraft. They all believe that 
the wizards or witches can injure whom they choose, even to 
deprivation of life, if they can possess themselves of some part 
of their intended victim's body, or that which has proceeded 
thence — such as hair, pieces of nails, &c. ; and this superstition 
is the more curious from its exact accordance with that so pre- 
valent in Polynesia. 

The tribe, or subdivision of the Tehuelhet who generally live 
near Magalhaens' Strait, have learned to pay a sort of homage 
(perhaps it may be termed worship) to an image of wood, cut 
into the figure of a man's head and body, and called Cristo ; 
this image they rarely produce to strangers, or even amongst 

M 2 


themselves, except at deaths, or on very particular occasions. 
This attempt at an outward demonstration of faith in customs 
of the Romish church, appears to have been caused by a Cap- 
tain Pelippa, who visited the Strait of Magalhaens some time 
before the Adventure and Beagle. Who or what he was, I 
could not discover. 

There is a particular kind of tree, which is esteemed sacred, 
and never burned. It is like a thorn ; a resinous gum issues 
from the knotty, close-grained stem, which has a pleasant 
aromatic smell, if put into the fire. 

Regular government, or any forms and rules approaching to 
what may be called a civil constitution, no one would expect 
to find among tribes of wandering savages ; but amongst the 
Araucanian tribes of Moluche, who do not wander, and have 
advanced towards civilization, there are regular laws, support- 
ing a settled form of government ; and their ideas have been 
communicated to the southern tribes, and ha,ve slightly influ- 
enced them. Thus, in many cases, oifenders are tried by an 
assembly of the older people, and their sentence pronounced, 
after mature deliberation, instead of being at once dealt with 
as the cacique may, at first thought, deem expedient. 

The caciques or chiefs are hereditary. Those who possess 
much property and have many followers are highly respected ; 
but their authority, though absolute in some instances, is little 
exerted in the common occiu*rences of life. When meetings 
are held for the purpose of deciding upon any question, the 
cacique presides — that is, he is considered the principal per- 
son present ; certainly he looks the most solemn, and is the least 
active. He gives orders to hunting parties, or to those who 
exercise for war : and if men quarrel, he sometimes causes them 
to be parted. In time of war he leads his tribe, and in pro- 
portion to his enterprise and success is his actual authority 
while the war lasts. Each person has a particular name, im- 
plying a quality or some peculiarity ; sometimes a particu- 
lar place. 

" All the sons of a cacique," says Falkner, " have a right to 
assume the dignity, if they can get any persons to follow them ; 


but, on account of the small utility of the rank of cacique, it is 
often resigned." 

Falkner's account of the caciques ought to be, and is, no 
doubt, one of the best ; it is as follows : — 

" The cacique has the power of protecting as many as apply 
to him ; of composing or silencing any difference ; or delivering 
over the offending party to be punished with death, without 
being accountable for it. In these respects, his will is the law. 
He is generally too apt to take bribes, delivering up his vassals, 
and even his relations, when well paid for it. According 
to his orders, the Indians encamp, march, or travel from one 
place to another, to hunt or make M^ar. He frequently sum- 
mons them to his tent, and harangues them upon their beha- 
viour; the exigencies of the time; the injuries they have 
received ; the measures to be taken, &c. In these harangues, 
he always extols his own prowess and personal merit. When 
eloquent, he is greatly esteemed ; and when a cacique is not 
endowed with that accomplishment, he generally has an orator, 
who supplies his place"" (as in Polynesia). 

" In cases of importance he calls a council of the principal 
Indians and wizards, with whom he consults about the mea- 
sures to be taken, to defend himself or attack his enemies. In 
a general war, when many nations unite against a common 
enemy, as in the great alliances against the Spaniards, they 
choose a commander-in-chief, called Apo (or Toqui), from 
among the oldest or most celebrated caciques ; but this honour 
though properly elective, has for many years been hereditary 
in the family of Cangapol. (Written in 1780.) 

" The caciques have not the power to raise taxes, or to 
take away any thing from their vassals ; nor can they oblige 
them to serve in the least employment, without paying them. 
They are obliged to treat their vassals with great humanity 
and mildness, and oftentimes to relieve their wants, or they 
will seek the protection of some other chief. For this reason, 
many of those who are born caciques refuse to have any vas- 
sals, as they cost them dear, and yield but little profit. No 
Indian, or body of Indians, can live without the protection of 



some cacique, according to their law of nations ; and if any of 
them attempted to do so, they would undoubtedly be killed, 
or carried away as slaves, as soon as they were discovered. 

" In case of any injury, notwithstanding the authority of 
the cacique, the party aggrieved often endeavours to do him- 
self justice to the best of his power. They know of no punish- 
ment or satisfaction, but that of paying or redeeming the injury 
or damage done with something of value. If the offence is not 
very great, and the offender is poor, the injured party perhaps 
beats him with his balls on the back and ribs ; but, in general, 
they do not chastise, except by death. When the offender is 
too powerful, they let him alone ; unless the cacique interferes, 
and obliges him to make satisfaction." 

A curious plant is found in Patagonia (and at the Falkland 
Islands), somewhat like a very large and very solid cauli- 
flower. It is greenish, or yellowish-green, tough, and very 
abundant. It grows upon and close to the ground, forming a 
lump like a large ant-hill overgrown with moss and grass. 
From the succulent stalks of this plant a balsamic juice or sap 
exudes, which is particularly good for healing wounds. 

Battles between tribes are carried on similarly to their wars 
against a nation ; but, of course, on a smaller scale. The attack- 
ing party halts at a great distance from the enemy, and sends 
out scouts to reconnoitre. These emissaries hide during the 
day, but at night examine every detail most minutely, and 
return to the camp with a full account of their opponent's 
strength and position. When the moon is near, or a little past 
the full, showing good light for their work, they advance to 
the attack. A few hours after midnight they make the assault, 
kill all the men who resist, and carry away the women and 
children for slaves. 

Sometimes the Indian women follow their husbands, and 
share in the booty. Laden with plunder, they all retreat as 
hastily as possible, resting neither night nor day, till they are 
at a great distance, and out of the reach of their enemies. 
Sometimes they ride more than a hundred leagues from the 
place of attack before stopping to rest, and divide the booty. 


On such occasions, if fearful of pursuit, or hai'd pressed by 
pursuers, they stop very little by the way — light no fire — eat 
but little food, and thati-aw — and some are even able to change 
horses without checking their speed, or touching the ground. 
A troop of loose horses is always driven along before the party : 
and when an Indian, at such a time, wants to change, he rides 
along-side of a loose horse, jumps on his back, bridle in hand, 
and in an instant, the bit is transferred from one to the other. 
Saddle they care not for, when thus pressed. 

In guiding and managing their horses, the Indians use the 
voice with very good effect. The best of those animals are 
exceedingly well trained ; and the owners are as reluctant to 
part with them as Arabs are to sell their steeds. 

The natives of Patagonia breed their own horses as well as 
dogs : but their constant practice of killing the horses of men 
who die tends to prevent their being numerous. Upon sucli 
occasions, all, excepting the few wliich had been assigned to 
his children (generally one or two to each child at its birth), 
are killed. Dogs have a similar fate. With such laws, a man 
need not fear being put out of the way for the sake of his pro- 
perty ; nor, while the women are enjoined to go through such 
a mourning ordeal, is it likely they would enter into or favour 
any combination made against their husbands, however harshly 
they might be treated by them. 

Excepting that of the caciques, I believe there is no supe- 
riority of one person over another among the Patagonians. 
Those who have more property than others, or who are related 
to the chief, have influence over the rest, but are not considered 
by them to be their superiors. 

The moral restraints of these people seem to be very slight. 
Each man is at liberty to do very much as he feels inclined ; 
and, if he does not injure or offend his neighbour, is not inter- 
fered with by others. Their social habits are those handed 
down by their ancestors, and adapted to the life they are com- 
pelled to lead. Ideas of improvement do not trouble them. 
Contented with their fine chmate — plenty of wholesome food, 
and an extensive range of country — they rather pity Avhite 



people, who seem to them always in want of provisions, and 
tossed about at sea. These natives have a great dishke to 
the motion of a ship ; yet, for novelty, they will go afloat when 
opportunity offers. 

In landing at Gregory Bay, Mr. Low has had much trouble 
in preventing the natives from crowding into his boat, all 
being anxious to see the vessel. Once, when many strange 
Indians (of another tribe) were present, he was obliged to 
affect to quarrel with them; and afterwards they behaved 
better and were quite civil, but he never allowed his boat to 
be grounded. Having left a Dutchman as boat-keeper, the 
natives teased him into a quarrel, and then dragged him out of 
the water, boat and all, with their lassoes^ leaving him among 
the bushes, frightened and spluttering, while they galloped 
off, laughing heartily. The Dutchman hastened to Mr. Low ; 
but while he was gone, the boat was put into the water by the 
authors of the trick, who then dashed off at full speed, highly 
amused at their feat. Mr. Low gave one of the women a gay 
gown ; it was the first she had seen ; and wishing to suckle 
her infant, she put it under the skirt of the gown, and, with 
some difficulty, forced the little thing upwards to her breast. 

Wlien the Patagonians meet white men, their inclinations 
are almost always friendly ; but if they find themselves able to 
dictate to the strangers, a tribute of tobacco, bread, muskets, 
powder, ball, or such articles as they see and fancy, is often 

A trading schooner called at Gregory Bay (in the Strait of 
Magalhaens) in 1834. Her mate landed, and was asked for 
various things which he could not or did not wish to give. The 
natives detained him as a prisoner ; sent his boat away ; and 
kept him till his ransom (tobacco and bread) was sent ashore. 

Considerable traffic for knives, swords, muskets, ammunition, 
tobacco, bread, and, latterly, spirits, has been kept up between 
the southern Patagonians and the vessels which have touched 
on their shores (especially at Gregory Bay) in going through 
the Strait. Their returns have been mantles, skins, and fresh 
guanaco meat. 


During late years, several persons, run-away seamen and 
others, have passed many months — some, indeed, have passed 
years — in their company, — living as they live. 

In 1833-34, one of the most influential individuals among 
them was a Chilian, named San Leon, who had been carried 
to Patagonia by Mr. Brisbane, for the purpose of trading with 
the Indians for horses. He ran away from the vessel (1830-32), 
and has since lived with the tribe who are generally found 
near Gregory Bay. His wife is the daughter of an old native 
who possesses much property (according to their ideas) ; she 
speaks a little Spanish, and interprets for strangers better than 
her husband, whose knowledge of the Indian language is very 
slight. Bred in Chile, San Leon is a good horseman, and 
considered by the Indians to be an excellent hunter. 

Mr. Low thinks that the natives would encourage and be 
friendly to a settlement of white people, made in Patagonia. 
They profess to like white men, and to wish some to live with 
them : when old Maria (the woman previously mentioned) was 
at the Falkland Islands, Mr. Low told her that he intended 
to build a house at Gregory Bay, and carry white people with 
him to live there, at which she and her party (including the 
wizard) seemed to be much pleased. 

Mr. Low considers that those natives who live eastward and 
northward of the First Narrow are not of the same tribe as 
those who are generally about Gregory Bay, with whom, he 
says, they are frequently at war. He also thinks that those 
who live farther westward, near Otway and Skyring Waters, 
form another subdivision. The following notices, written from 
his dictation,will show that what I have already stated respect- 
ing these minor tribes, considered as subdivisions of one large 
body or nation, cannot be very far wrong : — 

During the stay of the Unicorn (Mr. Low^s vessel) in 
the channel between Otway and Skyring Waters, a fire was 
made, as a signal to the Indians. They soon began to arrive 
in small detached parties, some of whom were known to Mr. 
Low, whose acquaintance with them had been formed at Gre- 
gory Bay. They travelled in small parties, therefore were not. 


in all probability, on bad terms with their neighbours at that 

Those who first arrived were invited on board; but declined 
going, because their chief was expected : and with the last 
party came a boy, about nine years' old, fantastically decked 
with ornaments of copper and brass, with beads, and with a new 
mantle. A tall, fine-looking man, of the Gregory Bay tribe, 
accompanied this young cacique, and made him known to Mr. 
Low, by the name of ' Capitan Chups.' 

These natives have adopted the word ' capitan,' and now 
always use it when addressing white men who they suppose 
have authority. When some Patagonians of the Gregory Bay 
party came on board the Beagle, in 1834, seeing a larger 
number of officers than is usual in small vessels, one of the first 
questions asked, in broken Spanish, was, " Quanto capitanes 
abordo .'*'" 

Little Capitan Chups seemed to have no small idea of his 
own consequence, and tried to affect much dignity. He wil- 
lingly went on board the Unicom ; but not a native would 
enter the boat until the young chief was seated, when there 
was a most inconsistent scramble, which nearly swamped it. 
However, after pushing out a few of the intruders, the party 
reached the vessel in safety. On board her was a Patagonian 
boy, who had been four months with Mr. Low, and had been 
clothed at Monte Video. He had recognized Capitan Chups 
at a distance, said who he was, and showed by his manner that 
he considered him a person of high distinction. The little 
cacique called this boy, asked him many questions, and 
examined every part of his dress. Afterwards the boy joined 
some of his own family, who were present. He had before 
refused to go to the party at Gregory Bay, while there in the 
vessel, alleging that they were not his people. 

Mr. Low said, that the tribe on the banks of this channel 
were mixed, being partly horse and partly canoe Indians. They 
were entirely under the dominion of the Gregory Bay party, 
who appointed their chiefs. Maria's son, called ' Capitan Chico,' 
was their ruler, until the arrival of Capitan Chups. 


Yet Mr. Low did not think that the little capitan belonged 
to any of the families residing near Gregory Bay, but to 
some part of the same tribe who live far inland. Maria's son, 
Chico, was subsequently cacique, or acting as cacique of the 
Gregory Bay party. Had this western tribe been under the 
dominion of the Gregory Bay party, would the successor to 
Chico have been taken from a tribe who live far inland .-' 

The apparent mixture of horse and canoe Indians appears 
to me to have been an accidental consequence of the fire made 
as a signal, which called to the spot horsemen from the north 
and canoes from the south. The novelty of a vessel anchoring 
in a place never before disturbed by such a visitor, might well 
suspend hostilities between neighbouring tribes, even had they 
been at war ; but there is every reason to conclude that the 
canoe men of the south side of those waters have frequent and 
even amicable intercourse with the horsemen of Patagonia. 
A part though of that amicable intercourse consists in selling 
their children to the Patagonians for slaves. The following 
incident led to the discovery of this slave-trade : Mr. Low 
heard Maria talking of ' zapallos,''* and asked her if she could 
get some for him — and how many ? He thought she meant 
pumpkins (for which zapallos is Spanish) ; Maria replied, 
" two boat loads," and to show of what, pointed to a young 
slave, lately purchased from the Fuegians. When there are 
more zapallos among them than are wanted for slaves, or than 
suits their convenience, what becomes of them ? While young, 
they may be more useful than when they grow old ; and a 
wandering people, subsisting by hunting, would not in all 
probability take the trouble of providing for useless slaves, who 
might maintain themselves. The Patagonians are not so bar- 
barous as to kill them ; then what becomes of those zapallos ? 
If they are not sent to the borders of the Skyring and Otway 
Waters, there to shift for themselves, with perhaps a few old 
horses, and even some young men who help them to hunt, the 
employment of their later years is unexplained. 

• ' Zapallos,' or some word of similar sound. 


The canoe Indians are in reality despised by the Patago- 
nians ; but, for the sake of trade, are generally kept upon half- 
friendly terms. For dogs, old horses, guanaco meat, and old 
mantles, the former give pieces of iron pyrites (used for striking 
fire), their captives, or their cliildren. 

Patagonians have a great antipathy to negroes. As soon as 
they see a black man, they shout, hoot, hiss, and make faces 
at him. 

No signs of hieroglyphics or writing have been noticed among 
the Patagonians. They can reckon as far as thousands. Time is 
counted by years and moons, days and nights. There are parti- 
cular words denoting the various phases of the moon, the sea- 
sons of the year, and the times of day and night. In counting, 
the fingers and toes are used, as well as words expressing num- 
bers, especially when trying to make their meaning clear to 
strangers. Once, when Mr. Low was leaving Gregory Bay, he 
gave Maria to understand that he would return again in four 
moons, and asked her to have some guanaco meat ready for 
him when he should arrive. He returned a fortnight before 
his time. No meat was ready. Maria said he was too soon, 
explaining herself by holding three fingers up, and the fourth 
bent half down. The few words of their language which have 
been collected by me are mentioned in the Appendix. 

The Patagonians pay respect to old people, taking great 
care of them ; they seldom move about on ordinary occasions, 
but remain near the tolderia (village or encampment) with the 
herds of mares. 

It has been mentioned that the Patagonians have lately 
taken a liking to spirits. When intoxicated, they are very 
noisy, but not quarrelsome. They are very fond of tobacco ; 
and use some sort of pipe, frequently ornamented with brass 
and tassels : it is passed round from one to the other. They 
neither work, nor use any metal but what is obtained from 
white men. There is no kind of pottery made by them: 
wooden vessels, or bladders, being used for containing water. 
Many of them now have iron kettles, in which meat is some- 
times boiled, but their usual mode of cookery is roasting ; a 


piece of meat being put upon a wooden skewer, which is stuck, 
into the ground near their fire. 

The conduct of the women does not correspond to their cha- 
racter drawn by Falkner ; but their ideas of propriety may 
have been altered by the visits of licentious strangers. Both at 
Gregory Bay (on the north shore of Magalhaens Strait), and 
at the River Negro, the Patagonian women are now thought to 
be unfaithful to their husbands, and to care little about chas- 
tity. The men appear to give themselves no anxiety on the 
subject. Spirits, provisions, and (to them) valuable articles of 
hardware, or clothing which they receive, occupy much more 
of their attention. 

These Indians do not appear very sensible of heat or cold, 
if one may judge from their habits of life, and from their cloth- 
ing; in the latter, the only difference made during the coldest 
part of winter is wearmg horse-hide boots more constantly. In 
summer, their feet and legs are generally naked. Both men 
and women wash themselves occasionally, neither regularly 
nor often ; but the women are rather less uncleanly than the 
men. I have elsewhere mentioned that they comb their hair 
with the jawbone of a porpoise (obtained from the zapallos). 
They have also a small brush, made of coarje grass, twigs, 
or rushes, with which their toilet is assisted. 

When Mr. Low was returning from Monte Video, with the 
boy on board who has been spoken of as recognizing Capitan 
Chups, some natives were seen on Elizabeth Island (Strait 
of Magalhaens). A boat was sent, with the boy in her, to trade 
with them for skins. When near enough to distinguish per- 
sons, he seemed extremely frightened — clung to the thwarts 
of the boat — and begged not to be landed. These were canoe 
Indians, but of what tribe was not ascertained : he said they 
would certainly kill him. Some time after this boy had 
rejoined his family, Mr. Low was informed, by the Gregory 
Bay people, that he had collected seal-skins for ' Capitan Low,' 
which he would not part with to any other person, as he knew 
they were the object of his friend's trading voyages. This 
instance of gratitude for kind treatment speaks well for both 


parties : but, indeed, every white man who has passed any time 
among the Patagonian Indians agrees in giving a favourable 
account of the treatment experienced. The ' Basket-maker,'' 
however, would fare better than the ' Scholar,' I fancy, with 
these, as well as with most other tribes of savages, until ideas 
could be communicated clearly.* 

The dogs now found in the southern part of Patagonia have 
a wolfish appearance — their size, colour, hair, ears, nose, tail, 
and form being in general much like those of a wolf; though 
some black or spotted dogs are also seen. The roof of the mouth 
is black : the ears are always erect, and the nose sharp-pointed. 
I should say that their usual height is about that of a large fox- 
hound. Generally the coat is harsh or wiry, and rather short ; 
but there are some dogs among them which have thick woolly 
coats, like those of Newfoundland or large shepherd's dogs, 
which some resemble ; others being more like lurchers ; but all 
have a wild wolf-like look, not at all prepossessing. I had a 
fine dog of this kind, rather like a Newfoundland, except in 
physiognomy, but his habits were so savage that he came to 
an untimely end. These dogs hunt by sight, without giving 
tongue ; but they growl or bark loudly at the approach of 
strangers. As to attachment to their masters, the dogs we had 
could hardly give fair testimony, having been taken (bought) 
from them ; but to strangers they were always snappish. 

* With reference to what has been ah-eady mentioned about their 
migratory inclinations, I will here annex an omitted date: — Maria and 
her companions were at Gregory Bay in November 1831 : at the River 
Negro in September 1832 : and again at Gregory Bay, in the Strait of 
Magalhaens, in March 1833. 


Features — Form — Paint — Disposition — Food — Doctor — Religious ideas 
Superstitions — Marriage — Death — Burial — Cannibalism — Weapons 
— Women's occupation — Training — Obtaining food — Fire — Language 
— Sagacity and local knowledge — Battles — Ceremony — Natives in 
Trinidad Gulf — Obstruction Sound — Potatoes — Dogs. 

The most remarkable traits in the countenance of a Fue- 
gian are his extremely small, low forehead; his prominent 
brow ; small eyes (suffering from smoke) ; wide cheek-bones ; 
wide and open nostrils ; large mouth, and thick lips. Their 
eyes are small, sunken, black, and as restless as those of savages 
in general. Their eyelids are made red and watery by the 
wood smoke in their wigwams. The chin varies much ; that 
of a Tekeenica is smaller and less prominent than that of an 
Alikhoolip, in whom it is large and rather projecting, but there 
is much variety. The nose is always narrow between the eyes, 
and, except in a few curious instances, is hollow, in profile out- 
line, or almost flat. The mouth is coarsely^ formed (I speak 
of them in their savage state, and not of those who were in 
England, whose features were much improved by altered habits, 
and by education) ; their teeth are very peculiar : no canine, 
or eye-teeth, project beyond the rest, or appear more pointed 
than those ; the front teeth are sohd, and often flat-topped like 
those of a horse eight years old, and enamelled only at the sides: 
the interior substance of each tooth is then seen as plainly, in 
proportion to its size, as in that of a horse. Their hair is black, 
coarse, and lank, excepting the few instances mentioned in the 
next page. It grows by single hairs, not by piles, or by little 
bunches like very small camel-hair pencils. It does not fall 
off', nor does it turn gray until they are very old. Little, if 
any, hair is seen on the eye-brow. They would have a strag- 
gling beard, but scrupulously pull out every hair with tweezers 
made of muscle-shells. 


As exceptions to the general appearance of these people, it 
ought to be said that, among the Fuegians, I have seen several 
individuals, both men and women, with curly or frizzled hair 
(like that of some of the Polynesians or Malays), with rather 
high foreheads, straight or aquiline noses ; and in other fea- 
tures allied to the natives of New Zealand rather than to their 
countrymen of Tierra del Fuego. I was much struck by those 
exceptions, and, at the time, conjectured that they might be 
descendants of the Spanish colonists at Port Famine : but since 
then, having seen the Polynesians, I have been led to think 
otherwise ; as will be mentioned in a future page relating to 
New Zealand. 

Phrenological remarks on the forms of their heads are added 
in the Appendix : some were made on the spot by Mr. Wilson, 
the former surgeon of the Beagle, and others by a person in 
London. Mr. Wilson's paper also contains anatomical remarks 
and measurements. In this place it will be sufficient to remark 
that their heads are remarkably low, but wide ; and full from 
the ears backward. The neck of a Fuegian is short and 
strong. His shoulders are square, but high ; his chest and 
body are very large. The trunk is long, compared to the limbs 
and head. His arms and legs are rounder, and less sinewy, 
than those of Europeans ; his joints are smaller, and his extre- 
mities are likewise comparatively less. The hands are shaped 
like those of Europeans, but the feet, from always going bare- 
footed, are square at the toes, and would, by some persons, be 
considered of the Papua form. Most of them are rather bow- 
legged, and they turn their feet a little inwards in walking. 
The knee is strained by the custom of sitting so long on their 
heels, so that, when straightened, there are considerable folds 
or wrinkles of loose skin above and below the joint. The muscles 
of their thighs are large, but those of the legs, small. Little 
children are nearly of the same hue as their parents' skin is 
when cleaned ; but infants are, for a few days, rather lighter 

As I have already said, a small fillet is aU that is worn 
around the head. Usually this is a mere string, made of the 


sinews of birds or animals ; but, to make a show, they some- 
times stick feathers, bits of cloth, or any trash given to them, 
into these head-bands. White feathers, or white down, on the 
fillet, is a sign of hostility, or of being prepared for war. Red is 
the favourite colour, denoting peace, or friendly intentions, and 
much admii-ed as ornamental. Red paint, made with ochre, is 
profusely used. Their white* paint is added to the red when 
preparing for war ; but the marks made are mere daubs, of 
the rudest, if of any design. Black is the mourning colour. 
After the death of a friend, or near relation, they blacken 
themselves with charcoal, and oil or grease. Any sort of clay 
is used, if their paint is scarce, to preserve warmth rather than 
as an improvement to their appearance. 

When discovered by strangers, the instant impulse of a 
Fuegian family is to run off into the wood with their children, 
and such things as they can carry with them. After a short 
time, if nothing hostile is attempted by the intruders, and if 
they are not too numerous, the men return cautiously, making 
friendly signs, waving pieces of skins, rubbing and patting their 
bellies, and shouting. If all goes on quietly, the women fre- 
quently return, bringing with them the children; but they 
always leave the most valuable skins hidden in the bushes. This 
hasty concealment of seal or otter skins is the result of visits 
from sealers, who frequently robbed Fuegian families of every 
skin in their possession, before the natives understood the mo- 
tives of their expeditions in boats into the interior waters of 
Tierra del Fuego. Sometimes nothing will induce a single indi- 
vidual of the family to appear ; men, women, and children 
hide in the thick woods, where it would be almost impossible 
to find them, and do not show themselves again until the 
strangers are gone : but during the whole time of their conceal- 
ment a watchful look-out is kept by them upon the motions of 
their unwelcome visitors. 

Scarcity of food, and the facility with which they move from 
one place to another in their canoes, are, no doubt, the reasons 

• Aluminous earth, indurated pipe clay, or decomposed feldspai-.. 
VOL. ir. N 


why the Fuegians are always so dispersed among the islands 
in small family parties, why they never remain long in one 
place, and why a large number are not seen many days in 
society. They never attempt to make use of the soil by any 
kind of culture ; seals, birds, fish, and particularly shell-fish, 
being their principal subsistence; any one place, therefore, soon 
ceases to supply the wants of even one family ; hence they are 
always migratory. 

In a few places, where the meeting of tides causes a constant 
supply of fish, especially porpoises, and where the land is 
broken into multitudes of irregular islets and rocks, whose 
shores afford an almost inexhaustible quantity of shell-fish, a 
few families may be found at one time, numbering altogether 
among them from twenty to forty souls ; but even those 
approaches towards association are rare, and those very families 
are so migratory by nature, that they do not remain many 
months in such a spot, however productive it may be, but go 
wandering away among the numerous secluded inlets or sounds 
of their country, or repair to the outer sea-coast in search 
of seals, a dead whale, or fragments of some wrecked ship. 
During the summer they prefer the coast, as they then obtain 
a great quantity of eggs and young birds, besides seal, which 
come ashore to breed at that season ; and in the winter they 
retire more into the interior waters in search of shell -fish, and 
the small but numerous and excellent fish which they catch 
among the sea- weed (kelp). 

The substitutes for clothing, the arms, canoes, and dwell- 
ings of the Fuegians have been so often described already, 
tliat I will not tire the reader by a repetition. Some of their 
customs, hitherto not related, may be more interesting. 

There is no superiority of one over another, among the 
Fuegians, except that acquired gradually by age, sagacity, 
and daring conduct ; but the ' doctor-wizard ' of each party has 
much influence over his companions. Being one of the most cun- 
ning, as well as the most deceitful of his tribe, it was not surpris- 
ing that we should always have found the ' doctor' concerned 
in all mischief and every trouble arising out of our intercourse 


with these natives. It became a saying among us, that such 
a person was as troublesome as a Fuegian doctor. 

In each family the word of an old man is accepted as law 
by the young people ; they never dispute his authority. War- 
fare, though nearly continual, is so desultory, and on so small 
a scale among them, that the restraint and direction of their 
elders, advised as they are by the doctors, is sufficient. 

Ideas of a spiritual existence — of beneficent and evil powers 
— they certainly have ; but I never witnessed or heard of any act 
of a decidedly religious nature, neither could I satisfy myself 
of their having any idea of the immortality of the soul. The 
fact of their believing that the evil spirit torments them in this 
world, if they do wrong, by storms, hail, snow, &c., is one rea- 
son why I am inclined to think that they have no thought of a 
future retribution. The only act I have heard of which could 
be supposed devotional, is the following. When Matthews 
was left alone with them for several days, he sometimes heard 
a great howling, or lamentation, about sun-rise in the morn- 
ing ; and upon asking Jemmy Button what occasioned this 
outcry, he could obtain no satisfactory answer ; the boy only 
saying, " people very sad, cry very much.''' Upon one occa- 
sion, when some canoes were alongside the Beagle, at a 
subsequent visit to the Beagle Channel (in 1834), a sudden 
howl from one of the Fuegians aroused several others who 
were near, and at the opposite side of the vessel, when a ge- 
neral howl of lamentation took place, which was ended by a 
low growling noise. By this, as well as by pulling their hair, 
and beating their breasts, while tears streamed down their 
faces, they evinced their sorrow for the fate of some friends who 
had perished, some days before the Beagle's arrival, by the 
upsetting of a loaded canoe.* There was no regular weeping, 
nor any thing at all like the downright cry of a civilized being ; 
it was a noise which seemed to be peculiar to a savage. This 
howling was mostly among the men, only one young woman 
was similarly affected. Now whether the noises heard by 

• The bottom of a Fuegian canoe is full of mud, or clay, for the fire- 

N 2 


Matthews were occasioned by similar feelings, or by those of a 
devotional nature, I cannot pretend to say. 

The natives whom I carried to England often amused us by 
their superstitious ideas, which showed, nevertheless, that their 
ideas were not limited by the visible world. If any thing was 
said or done that was wrong, in their opinion it was certain to 
cause bad weather. Even shooting young birds, before they 
were able to fly, was thought a heinous offence. I remember 
York Minster saying one day to Mr. Bynoe, Avhen he had shot 
some young ducks with the old bird — ' Oh, Mr. Bynoe, very 
bad to shoot little duck — come wind — come rain — blow — very 
much blow." 

A great black man is supposed to be always wandering about 
the woods and mountains, who is certain of knowing every word 
and every action ; who cannot be escaped, and who influences 
the weather accordino; to men's conduct. York related a curi- 
ous story of his own brother, who had committed a murder. 
" In woods of my country," said he, " some men go about 
alone ; very wild men — have no belly (meaning probably that 
they were very thin), live by stealing from other men." He 
then went on to say, that his brother had been getting birds 
out of a cliffy, and, on coming down, hid them among some long 
rushes, and went away. Soon afterwards he returned, and, see- 
ing feathers blown away by the wind from the spot, suspected 
what was going on ; so taking a large stone in his hand, he 
crept stealthily towards the place, and there saw one of these 
wild men plucking a bird which he had got out of the cliff*. 
Without saying a word, he dashed the stone at the wild man's 
head, and killed him on the spot. Afterwards York's bro- 
ther was very sorry for what he had done, particularly when 
it began to blow very hard. York said, in telling the story, 
" rain come down — snow come down — hail come down — wind 
blow — blow — very much blow. Very bad to kill man. Big man 
in woods no like it, he very angry." At the word ' blow,' 
York imitated the sound of a strong wind ; and he told the 
whole story in a very low tone of voice, and with a mysterious 
manner; considering it an extremely serious affair. 


Jemmy Button was also very superstitious, and a great 
believer in omens and dreams. He would not talk of a dead 
person, saying, with a grave shake of the head, " no good, no 
good talk ; my country never talk of dead man." While at sea, 
on board the Beagle, about the middle of the year 1832, he 
said one morning to Mr. Bynoe, that io the night some man 
came to the side of his hammock, and whispered in his ear 
that his father was dead. Mr. Bynoe tried to laugh him out 
of the idea, but ineffectually. He fully believed that such was 
the case, and maintained his opinion up to the time of finding 
his relations in the Beagle Channel, when, I regret to say, he 
found that his father had died some months previously. He 
did not forget to remind Mr. Bynoe (his most confidential 
friend) of their former conversation, and, with a significant 
shake of the head said, it was " bad — very bad," Yet those 
simple words, as Mr. Bynoe remarked, seemed to express the 
extent of his sorrow, for after that time he said no more about 
his father. This subsequent silence, however, might have been 
caused by the habit abready noticed, of never mentioning the 

When a person dies, his family wrap the body in skins, and 
carry it a long way into the woods ; there they place it upon 
broken boughs, or pieces of solid wood, and then pile a great 
quantity of branches over the corpse. This is the case among 
the Tekeenica and Alikhoolip tribes, as well as the Pecheray ; 
but how the others dispose of their dead, I know not, excepting 
that, on the west coast, some large caves have been found, in 
which were many human bodies in a dried state. One of these 
caves is mentioned in Byron's narrative of the wreck of the 
Wager : and another was seen by Mr. Low, which will be 
spoken of in describing the natives of the western coast of 
Patagonia (the Chonos Indians), who from their intercourse 
with the Spaniards may be supposed to have acquired ideas 
somewhat more enlarged than those of the southernmost regions 
— the Alikhoolip and Tekeenica. I prefer relating all that I 
know of these tribes, in consequence of the intercourse carried 
on with them by the Beagle's officers and myself, and the visit 

182 MARllIAGE. 

of York, Jemmy, and Fuegia to England, before any of Mr. 
Low's account is given ; because, as his intercourse was chiefly 
with the Chonos tribe, and was quite unconnected with the 
Beagle's visit, it will be more satisfactory to the reader to be 
enabled to compare accounts from different sources, which in 
some points are so strikingly similar, that their agreement giveg 
great weight to the •whole. 

The Fuegians marry young. As soon as a youth is able to 
maintain a wife, by his exertions in fishing or bird-catching, 
he obtains the consent of her relations, and does some piece of 
work, such as helping to make a canoe, or prepare seal-skins, 
&c. for her parents. Having built or stolen a canoe for himself, 
he watches for an opportunity, and carries off his bride. If 
she is unwilling, she hides herself in the woods until her ad- 
mirer is heartily tired of looking for her, and gives up the pur- 
suit ; but this seldom happens. Although this is undoubt- 
edly the custom among many of them, we had some reason to 
think there were parties who lived in a promiscuous manner — a 
few women being with many men. It is, however, hardly fair to 
judge from what we saw during our short visit, when the ordi- 
nary habits of their life were certainly much altered. We 
observed, while at Woollya, a disproportionately small num- 
ber of females ; but it ought to be remembered, that the people 
whom we then saw came to look at us from a distance, and 
that the greater part of their women and children were pro- 
bably left in security at various places, as were the women and 
children of those who stole our boat in the former voyage 
(vol. i. p. 394) whom we found in a retired nook, far out of 
ordinary observation. 

Jemmy Button often talked of his father, mother, brothers, 
and sisters, also of uncles* and aunts, after he knew enough 
of our language to understand distinctly the relationship. Now 
this could not have been the case had not his father and mother 
lived together permanently as man and wife, according to the 
clear account which he himself always gave of their custom in 
this respect. 

* It was an uncle who gave him to me for some buttons. 



From the concurring testimony of the three Fuegians above- 
mentioned, obtained from them at various times and by many 
different persons, it is proved that they eat human flesh upon 
particular occasions, namely, when excited by revenge or 
extremely pressed by hunger. Almost always at war with 
adjoining tribes, they seldom meet but a hostile encounter is 
the result ; and then those who are vanquished and taken, if 
not already dead, are killed and eaten by the conquerors. The 
arms and breast are eaten by the women ; the men eat the legs ; 
and the trunk is thrown into the sea. During a severe winter, 
when hard frost and deep snow prevent their obtaining food 
as usual, and famine is staring them in the face, extreme hun- 
ger impels them to lay violent hands on the oldest woman of 
their party, hold her head over a thick smoke, made by burn- 
ing green wood, and pinching her throat, choke her. They 
then devour every particle of the flesh, not excepting the trunk, 
as in the former case. Jemmy Button, in telling this horrible 
story as a great secret, seemed to be much ashamed of his coun- 
trymen, and said, he never would do so — he would rather eat 
his own hands. When asked why the dogs were not eaten, he 
said " Dog catch iappo" (iappo means otter). York told me 
that they always eat enemies whom they killed in battle ; and 
I have no doubt that he told me the truth. 

When the Dutch fleet were in Nassau Bay (1624), a boat's 
crew were attacked by the natives, murdered and partly eaten. 
But previous to this (in 1599), Oliver Van Noort had attacked 
some Fuegians in a cave near a cape, then called Nassau, where 
he killed several men, and took four boys and two girls pri- 

Jemmy Button told me that there are two tribes of Te- 
keenica, differing only in situation, who go to war sometimes 
with one another, though usually at peace; they live east 
and west, respectively, of some islets in the Beagle Channel, a 
short distance north-eastward of Woollya. With these two 
tribes or subdivisions of the Tekeenica there is constant war 
made by the Yacana, called by Jemmy ' Oens-men ;'' but they 
(the Tekeenica) are sometimes at peace with the AlikhooHp. 



The food of the Fuegians has been mentioned so often in 
the preceding pages of this or the former volume, that I will 
only add here a few remarks which have not hitherto been 
made. When there is time, the natives roast their sheU-fish, 
and half-roast any other food that is of a solid nature ; but 
when in haste, they eat fish, as well as meat, in a raw state. A 
seal is considered to be a grand prize ; for, besides the flesh, 
they feast on the oil ; and a porpoise is much valued, for a 
similar reason. Seal are often killed on the rocks, by striking 
them on the nose with a club, or large stick : and rather than let 
a seal go, which has been intercepted by getting between it and 
the water, they will risk having a severe bite by attacking it 
with a stone in hand. Both seal and porpoises are speared by 
them from their canoes. When struck, the fish usually run 
into the kelp, with the spear floating on the water, being 
attached by a short line to a moveable barb ; and there the 
men follow with their canoe, seize the spear, and tow by it till 
the fish is dead. To them, the taking of a seal or porpoise is a 
matter of as much consequence as the capture of a whale is to 
our countrymen. On moonlight nights, birds are caught when 
roosting, not only by the men but by their dogs, which are 
sent out to seize them Avhile asleep upon the rocks or beach ; 
and so well are these dogs trained, that they bring all they 
catch safely to their masters, without making any noise, and 
then return for another mouthful. Birds are also frequently 
killed with arrows,* or by stones slung at them with unerring 
aim. Eggs are eagerly sought for by the natives ; indeed, I 
may say that they eat any thing and every thing that is eatable, 
without being particular as to its state of freshness, or as to 
its having been near the fire. Penguins are much prized ; the 
otter is also valued, excepting the body part, which they seldom 

* These arrows are of hard wood, well polished, and quite straight. 
They are about two feet in length, and in a notch at the point have a 
sharp triangular piece of agate, obsidian, or broken glass; which is not 
permanently fixed, and therefore remains in a wound, though the shaft 
may be drawn out. The bow is from three to four feet long, quite plain, 
with a string made of twisted sinews. 


eat unless hard pressed by hunger. Sometimes they spear fine 
fish, like cod-fish — fifteen or twenty pounds in weight. Small 
fish are caught in abundance by the method formerly de- 
scribed,* and they are the staple article of food among the 
Tekeenica. The fins of a dead whale are esteemed ; but if 
other food is to be had, they do not eat the blubber. 

In the Tekeenica country, near theBeagleChannel, there are 
many small animals, about the size of a cat, which they some- 
times take and eat. These, I think, are nutria ; for, on one 
occasion, a fresh nutria skin was obtained from them, the only 
sign I ever found of a small animal in that neighbourhood. 

Of vegetable food they have very little : a few berries, cran- 
berries, and those which grow on the arbutus, and a kind of 
fungus, which is found on the birch-tree, being the only sorts 
used. This fungus is very plentiful in some places : it grows 
upon the birch-tree much as the oak-apple upon an oak-tree. 
Mr. Darwin describes it fully in his journal (vol. iii). There 
is also another much larger kind of fungus, which is sometimes 
eaten. On what tree it grows, I know not, but it was mentioned 
to me as being about two feet in circumference. The Fuegians 
drink only pure water, but often, and in large quantities. The 
women or children fetch it in small buckets, made of birch- 
bark ; and two or three times in the course of a night they 
wake to eat and drink. In the day-time also they eat and 
drink very frequently. 

The men procure food of the larger kind, such as seal, otter, 
porpoises, &c. ; they break or cut wood and bark for fuel, as 
well as for building the wigwams and canoes. They go out at 
night to get birds; they train the dogs, and of course under- 
take all hunting or warlike excursions. 

The women nurse their children, attend the fire (feeding it 
with dead wood, rather than green, on account of the smoke), 
make baskets and water-buckets, fishing-lines and necklaces,-|- 
go out to catch small fish in their canoes, gather shell-fisli, 
dive for sea-eggs, take care of the canoes, upon ordinary occa- 
sions paddle their masters about while they sit idle ; — and do 
any other drudgery. 

* See vol. i. p. 428. t !See note at end of chapter. 


Swimming is a favovirite amusement of the Fuegians during 
summer ; but the unfortunate women are obliged to go out 
into rather deep water, and dive for sea-eggs in the depth of win- 
ter as often as in summer. Men, women, and children are excel- 
lent swimmers ; but they all swim like dogs. Directly they come 
out of the water they run to the fire, and rub their bodies all 
over with oil or grease and ochreous earth, to keep out the cold. 
Swinging between branches of trees, as our children do, is 
also a favourite pastime, the ropes being made of strips of seal- 
skin. Frequently the men are lowered down by such ropes 
over the faces of high cliffs in search of eggs and young birds, 
or to attack the seal which herd in caves washed by the surf, 
and inaccessible to man from seaward. 

When ill, however seriously, they know of no remedies but 
rubbing the body with oil, drinking cold water, and causing 
perspiration by lying near the fire, wrapped up in skins. 

Both men and women are remarkably fond of the little chil- 
dren, and were always much pleased at any notice taken of 
them by our parties, when they felt sufficient confidence in us 
to bring the children forward. Much respect is said to be 
paid to age ; yet we never saw either- man or woman who 
appeared to be very old — certainly no one was decrepit. 

It is rather curious that usually each of these natives is 
trained to a particular pursuit : thus, one becomes an adept 
with the spear ; another with the sling ; another with a bow 
and aiTows; but this excellence in one line does not hinder 
their attaining a considerable proficiency in all the others.* 

Hostilities are usually carried on with slings and stones rather 
than by close encounters ; yet occasional surprises happen, 
especially when the Oens-men make an attack, and then there is 
savage work with clubs, stones in tlie hand, and spears. 

In the winter, when snow lies deep on the ground, the 
Tekeenica people assemble to hunt the guanaco, which then 
comes down from the high lands to seek for pasture near the 
sea. The long legs of the animal stick deeply into the snow 
and soft boggy ground, disabling him from escape, while the 

* Mr. Low has seen Fuegians with balls (bolas) in the northern part of 
their country. 


Fuegians and their dogs hem him in on every side, and 
quickly make him their prey. 

Jemmy Button's division of the Tekeenica, living westward 
of Murray Narrow, never obtain guanacoes; but the other 
division, who live eastward of that small passage, often kill 
them in winter ; and at other times of the year they sometimes 
get them by lying in wait, and shooting them with arrows, or 
by getting into a tree near their track, and spearing them as 
they pass beneath the branches. An arrow was shewn to Low, 
which was marked with blood two-thirds of its length in 
wounding a guanaco, afterwards caught by dogs. Low held out 
his jacket, making signs that the arrow would not penetrate it : 
upon which the native pointed to his eye. 

Some of the families of this eastern division of the Tekeenica 
have no canoes, living entirely at a distance from the shore, and 
subsisting upon berries, birch-fungus, guanacoes, and birds. 
The bows and arrows of those men are longer and better, and 
they have some very fine dogs, which are trained to search for 
and bring home food. These dogs often surprise the larger 
birds, while feeding on the ground, as well as when they are 
at roost, so quietly do they steal upon their prey. Byron men- 
tions that the Chonos Indians send their dogs away to fish, 
and that they assist their owners in fishing, by swimming about, 
and driving the fish into a corner. This I have not witnessed 
or heard of among the Fuegians ; but their dogs assist in a 
similar manner when in pursuit of an otter, by swimming and 
diving after it with the utmost eagerness. 

Fire, that essential necessary to man in every state and every 
climate, is always kept alive by these savages wherever they 
go, either in their canoes, in their wigwams, or even in their 
hand, by a piece of burning wood ; bvit they are at no loss 
to rekindle it, shovdd any accident happen. With two stones 
(usually iron pyrites) they procure a spark, which received 
among tinder, and then whisked round in the air, soon kindles 
into a flame. The tinder used is the inner down of birds, 
well dried; very fine dry moss; or a dry kind of fungus found 
on the under side of half-rotten trees. Where the pyrites is 


usually obtained, I do not know ; but it cannot be plentiful in 
the Tekeenica country, since every woman keeps small pieces 
by her, in the basket which holds their paint and ornaments, 
and will not easily be prevailed upon to part with them. Some 
of the sealers have fancied these pieces of pyrites were silver or 
gold ore, and have eagerly sought for the mines whence they 
came. One person finding a large quantity in a rock some- 
where near the Gulf of Trinidad, employed his crew and him- 
self for many days in loading his ship with it, being quite sure 
it was gold. 

Of the Fuegian language we know but little, although 
three of the natives were so many months with us. f found 
great difficulty in obtaining words, excepting names for things 
which could be shown to them, and which they had in their 
own country ; liowever, the few which I have collected are 
given in the Appendix to this volume, and I can assure the 
reader that the utmost pains were taken to spell each word so 
as to ensure having the correct sound when pronounced by 
other persons ; and to place the marks of accent, as well as 
quantity, with precision. All the Fuegian sounds are imitable 
by using our letters, excepting one, a curious sort of ' cluck,"* 
meaning ' no.' Many of their words are exceedingly guttural 
in their pronunciation, yet I have twice heard their women 
sing, and not disagreeably. Weddell, in his narrative (p. 173), 
gives some Fuegian words, and endeavours to trace a simila- 
rity to the Hebrew language. Molina also, in his vocabulary 
of the Araucanian language, which appears to be related to 
the Fuegian, traces some singular correspondences. 

Mr. Low, who has had more intercourse with the Fuegians 
than perhaps any other individual, gave me much information 
about them. He says that, generally speaking, they appear to 
be friendly when meeting strangers, but that theur subsequent 
conduct depends entirely upon their relative numbers. They 
ought never to be trusted, however, as they have hasty tempers, 
and are extremely revengeful. They show much hardiness and 
daring, being always ready to defend their own property, or 
resent any ill treatment; and the}/ are enterprising thieves. 


Wlicn the intentions of the natives arc hostile, the women and 
children are kept out of the way ; the iTien are quite naked, 
their bodies painted more than usual, and the leader of the 
party has a band of white feathers around his head. 

Mr. Low had a Fuegian boy on board the Adeona, who 
learned to speak English very tolerably, during eighteen months 
that he staid on board as a pilot and interpreter. This boy, 
whose name, among the sealers, was Bob, was one of the Chonos 
tribe, and had never been south of Magalhaens Strait before 
he embarked with Mr. Low. He said, that in cases of extreme 
distress, caused by hunger, human flesh was eaten, and that 
when they had recourse to such food, the oldest women inva- 
riably suffered. The poor creatures escaped to the woods, if 
possible, at such a time, but were soon found and bi'ought 
back by force. They were killed by suffocation, their heads 
being held over the thick smoke of a fire made of green wood, 
and their throats squeezed by the merciless hands of their 
own relations. This boy imitated the piercing cries of the 
miserable victims whom he had seen sacrificed. He also men- 
tioned that the breasts, belly, hands, and feet, were most liked. 
When first questioned on this subject, he showed no reluctance 
in answering any questions about it ; but after a time, perceiv- 
ing how much shocked his English companions were at the 
story, and how much disgust it excited among the crew of the 
vessel, he refused to talk of it again. 

The different tribes of canoe Indians are generally upon 
hostile terms with each other, as well as with the horse Indians. 
This may be more particularly noticed about the western 
entrance of Magalhaens Strait, where the tribes which inhabit 
opposite sides* are particularly inveterate in their hostility. 

On the west coast of Patagonia, from the Strait of Magal- 
haens to Cape Tres Montes, Mr. Low found that the natives 
seemed to be of one tribe, and upon friendly terms with one 
another. A man, whose native name was Niqueaccas, was 
taken on board Mr. Low's vessel, near Cape Victory, as a pilot, 

* Chonos and Alikhoolip. 


and he afterwards proved to be acquainted with all the natives 
met with along the coast as far north as the parallel of 47°- He 
was always glad to see the various parties of Indians whom 
they met, and was invariably well received by them. Per- 
fectly acquainted with every part of the coast, he was able 
to point out excellent harbours, as well as the best seal ' rooke- 
ries."" Niqueaccas and the boy Bob were of the same tribe ; 
but whenever he was spoken to about eating people, he became 
sullen, and not a word could be obtained from him. He spoke 
English very fairly before leaving the vessel in his own country, 
after being with Mr. Low fourteen months. 

The people of this tribe* are by no means without ideas 
of a superior Being. They have great faith in a good spirit, 
whom they call Yerri Yuppon, and consider to be the author 
of all good : him they invoke in time of distress or danger. 
They also believe in an evil spirit, called Yaccy-ma, who 
they think is able to do all kinds of mischief, cause bad 
weather, famine, illness, &c. : he is supposed to be like an 
immense black man. After being hard pressed for food, and 
then obtaining a good quantity, much form is observed in dis- 
tributing the first supplies. Mr. Low witnessed a ceremony of 
this kind, during which the greatest order prevailed. The 
whole tribe was seated round a fire, and the oldest man gave 
each individual a share, repeatedly muttering a short prayer, 
and looking upwards. Not one of the party, although nearly 
starved, attempted to touch the food, a large seal, until this 
ceremony was ended : one share was offered to Mr. Low. At 
another time, on Madre de Dios Island, after having been 
detained in port upwards of three months, owing to very bad 
weather, during which time the natives were almost famished, 
being unable to reach the outer rocks in quest of food, Mr. 
Low went with his boats and procured a few seals, taking an 
Indian in each boat. At his return the carcasses of the seals 
were sent ashore, but not one of the natives, ravenous as they 
were, attempted to touch a morsel until all was landed, till the 

» Chonos. See page 194. 



ceremony above-mentioned had been duly performed, and till 
the natives who had been in the boats had chosen what they 
pleased for their share. 

This tribe appears to have regular places for depositing their 
dead; as on a small out-lying island, a little southward of Madre 
de Dios, Mr. Low found a cave which had been used for such a 
purpose : it was strewed with human bones, and the body of a 
native child was found in a state of putrefaction. The bodies 
seemed to have been placed in shallow graves, about a foot 
deep, which had been dug along the sides of the cave, and 
covered with twigs and leaves. Slips of a peculiar plant, 
resembling box, had been carefully planted along the outer 
sides of each grave, and those near the mouth of the cave had 
taken root and were growing, but all those in the interior had 

One evening, while at sea, Mr. Low called the boy to him, 
and said, " Bob, look at the sun ; it is going to be drowned." 
The boy shook his head, saying, " No, no drown ; to-morrow 
morning get up again. Sun go round earth ; come again to- 

The natives of this tribe* suppose that all white people 
originally came from the moon ; they call them " cubba;" and 
often make use of an expression with reference to them wliich 
means " White men of the Moon." These Indians, in com- 
mon with those of the other southern tribes, are exceedingly 
superstitious, implicitly believing omens, signs, and dreams, as 
well as the ' wise men' among them, who are thought infal- 
lible as prophets, doctors, and magicians. Once, when Mr. 
Low was detained about three weeks by contrary winds and 
bad weather, his crew became discontented, and attributed 
their ill-luck to a native who was detained on board against his 
will. To pacify those who were, in this instance, every bit as 
superstitious as the aborigines themselves, a fire was made on 
shore, to invite the Indians to approach ; and when they came 
he delivered their countryman to them, explaining at the same 



time that he would depart as soon as the wind became fair. 
An old Indian, then, in a very ceremonious anff! mysterious 
manner, gave Low what he understood to be a charm, with 
strict injunctions not to look at it until next morning ; when, 
at sunrise, there would be a fair wind, and the vessel might 
sail. Notwithstanding the old man's orders, he was no sooner 
out of sight than Low opened the mysterious packet, which 
appeared to contain human hair, mixed with the scrapings of 
the shaft of an arrow. 

Next morning, however, at sunrise, a fair (easterly) wind 
sprung up, and the vessel sailed. How the old man foreknew 
the change — whether he judged by the sky, the tides, or other 
indications, did not transpire ; but this was by no means a 
singular instance of extraordinary accuracy shown by the 
natives in foretelling changes of weather. 

The sagacity and extensive local knowledge of these people 
is very surprising; Niqueaccas was so well acquainted with 
all the coast between 47° and the Strait of Magalhaens, that, 
upon being taken to a high hill, immediately after landing from 
a cruise, in which they had been far out of sight of land, he 
pointed out the best harbours and places for seal then visible ; 
and in one direction, a long way off (pointing towards Eyre 
Sound, then far out of sight), he said there were great numbers 
of fur seals. The boy Bob also described that same place, when he 
was with Mr. Low at the Galapagos Islands. On a calm day, 
while there was nothing going on, he made a chart with chalk 
upon the vessel's deck, reaching from the windlass to the tafF- 
rail, and Mr. Low has since felt quite certain that the boy 
meant Eyre Sound, though at that time these interior waters on 
the west coast of Patagonia had not been explored by any 
Avhite man. 

Niqueaccas was always anxious and timid about taking the 
Adeona through a passage where he knew danger existed, and 
proportionably pleased when the dangers were safely passed, 
and the vessel anchored in a safe position. 

The boy Bob, when only ten years old, was on board the 
Adeona at sea. As the vessel approached land, Low asked 


him where a harbour could be found ? As soon as he under- 
stood what was meant, which was an affair of some difficulty, 
for he then could speak but very little English, he got up on 
the vessePs bulwark, and looked anxiously around. After 
some hesitation, he pointed to a place where the ship might 
go, and then went to the lead-line, and made signs to Mr. Low 
that he must sound as he approached the land. The cove was 
found to have a shoal and narrow entrance, but was safe and 
sufficiently spacious within. Such knowledge at so early an age 
is an extraordinary proof of the degi-ee in which the perceptive 
and retentive faculties are enjoyed by these savages. Whenever 
the advice of Niqueaccas or any of his tribe wa^, ejected, much 
sullenness and displeasure were shown. Upon one occasion his 
services were refused, and a harbour tried against his advice, 
which pi'oved to be a bad one ; it was left to seek for that 
which he had previously recommended, and his sullenness 
suddenly changed into delight; but when his harbour was 
pronounced excellent, and he was duly praised, his joy knew 
no bounds. 

Generally speaking, both Niqueaccas and the boy Bob were 
well-behaved and good-tempered ; but the boy was sometimes 
inclined to be mischievous, and would hide the people''s clothes, 
or put salt into their mouths while asleep. When much annoyed, 
he would use both teeth and nails, and attack anyone, however 
superior to himself in size and strength. 

Battles between parties of the same tribe seem to occur 
occasionally, as this boy showed Mr^ Low two spots where 
quarrels had been decided. Both were open spaces, clear of 
trees, and near them were the remains of wigwams. One of 
those battles occurred in consequence of one party wishing 
to take some seal-skins away from the other ; but it did not 
distinctly appear from the boy's account whether these encoun- 
ters were between parties of his tribe, or whether an encroach- 
ment upon their territory, with a view to plunder, had been 
made by some other tribe. That parties occasionally cross 
overland from Skyring Water to Obstruction Sound is evident 
from Mr. Bynoe's account (page 198), and that people of the 

VOL. II. ■ o 


tribe to which Niqueaccas belonged either make excursions 
themselves southward of the Strait of Magalhaens, or that the 
Alikhoolip invade their territory and take away canoes, is 
evident from the fact of plank canoes* having been seen in and 
about the Barbara Channel. The arms used are similar to those 
of the Alikhoolip already described. 

A method of declaring war, ascertained by the following cir- 
cumstance, is rather curious. The boy Bob had been taken 
on board the Adeona, in consequence of some dispute with the 
natives, who had stolen things from the vessel. Mr. Low 
intended to keep him as a hostage until the missing pro- 
perty should be restored ; but the tribe decamped, and as 
Low was obliged to sail, he carried the boy away with him. 
At the return of the vessel, about eight months afterwards, 
the boy saw something on shore, at the entrance of the harbour, 
which he looked at for some time very earnestly, and then 
gave Mr. Low to understand that the natives had declared war 
against him and his ship, and intended to attack her at her 
return. No natives beinff visible, Low went ashore with the 
boy, to see what it was that had attracted his attention, and 
found a number of spears, arrows, and clubs, roughly cut out 
of wood, painted red, and stuck into the ground, across a point 
of the island, and having in the middle a large block of wood, 
roughly carved into a strange figure (said by the boy to be 
that of their evil spirit) curiously painted, with long red teeth, 
and having a short halter of hide (seal-skin) round the part 
intended to represent a neck. Notwithstanding this outward 
demonstration of anger and intent to revenge, not a native was 
seen in the neighbourhood during the many months which 
Low passed there, and in consequence he had no opportunity ^ 
of restoring the boy to his own tribe ; but he was afterwards j 
kindly received, and treated as Low's son, among the Patago-j 
nians of Gregory Bay. 

The natives of Niqueaccas' tribe (Chonos) are less dishonest] 
.:and deceitful than those of the southernmost islands. Mr. Low] 

:•: * Plank canoes are used on the west coast. See page 142. 


has sometimes left his vessel, while he was away sealing, with 
only two men on board; and although in one instance, at Madre 
de Dios, there were about a hundred and fifty natives assem- 
bled, no hostile or predatory attempt whatever was made by 
them in his absence : indeed so careful were they to prevent any 
cause for misunderstanding, that in no instance did more than 
two of their party go on board the vessel during the absence 
of tlie boats ; though, after their return with Low, they went 
to her as usual in great numbers. This tribe was in extreme 
distress for want of food ; the wliole party looked thin and 
miserable. Continual gales had prevented the rocks from being 
uncovered at low water, and no canoe could be launched on 
account of the surf, therefore they could get neither shell-fish 
nor seal. A small party were observed going away, as if on an 
excursion, and the others who remained explained to Low, by 
signs, that in four sleeps they would return with food. On the 
fifth day they were met by Low, returning, but almost dead 
with fatigue, each man having two or three great pieces of 
whale-blubber, shaped like a poncho with a hole in the middle, 
on his shoulders. The blubber was half putrid, and looked as if 
it had been buried under ground. When they entered the 
largest wigwam, an old man cut very thin slices off one piece, 
broiled each successively, and distributed to the party in rota- 
tion ; but before doing so, he muttered a few words over each 
piece in a mysterious manner, while strict silence was kept by 
the by-standers. One slice was offered to Low. The boy Bob 
once noticed marks where a whale had been cast ashore; taking 
a sharp stick, he probed the sand in several places, and found 
many large pieces of blubber, which were taken on board and 
boiled down for oil. One of the men of this tribe, seeing two 
long powder-horns on board the Adeona, placed them to his 
head and made a noise like the bellowing; of cattle ; but he and 
his tribe were much frightened by sheep and pigs. They would 
not land on a small island where some pigs were turned loose, 
and when talking of them, naade signs that they had very big 
noses which alarmed them. When a pig was killed by the crew 




and part of it cooked, the natives refused even to taste the 
meat. One day several of these people had gone on board the 
Adeona with some old axes and pieces of iron, which they 
wished to have ground at her grindstone (a favour which had 
often been granted) ; but in consequence of something having 
gone wrong in the vessel, which had ruffled Low's temper, he 
rather roughly refused to let them stay on board. They went 
away quietly, but left their axes, &c. behind; and while 
returning were met by the mate of the vessel, who asked if 
they had ground them ; they replied negatively, and gave the 
mate to understand that the captain''s face was too long, but 
that they would come again when it was shorter. This occurred 
before either Niqueaccas or the boy had been taken on board 
the Adeona. 

Mr. Low remarked to me that the conduct of these Indians 
on this occasion of his harshly refusing to comply with a 
slight request, was quite different from that which the Fuegians 
would have shown under similar circumstances : they would 
have been angry, and in all probability have returned his 
ill-temper with a display of their own, evinced by a shower of 
stones. Once, when Low was in the Magdalen Channel, he 
desired some Fuegians who were on board to leave the vessel 
wliile his men were below at dinner. They refused to comply, 
and offered resistance ; but being obliged to go, went in their 
canoes to a short distance a-head, and there remained slinging 
large stones on board, which broke several windows. To drive 
them away muskets were used, though without injuring any 
of their party. Next day the hardy fellows came alongside 
again, as unconcernedly as ever. 

When the Fuegians are inclined to attack an enemy with 
stones, they generally try to raise a breastwork of boughs or 
logs ; but no such preparation was ever noticed among the 
natives of the western coast of Patagonia. 

While the Adelaide tender was examining the inner pas- 
sages and sounds of the western shores of Patagonia, under 
Lieutenant Skyring, some interesting remarks were made by 


Mr. Bynoe, which do not appear in the narrative of that 
cruise given in the preceding volume. I shall here insert them 
in his own words : — 

" We entered the Gulf of Trinidad, and while surveying 
thereabouts met two large canoes, which were thought to be 
whale-boats when first seen at a distance ; but as we concluded 
that some sealing vessel was in the neighbourhood, and that these 
were her boats, little notice was taken of them until they had 
approached very near, when, to our astonishment they proved 
to be large plank canoes, pulled with oars, and full of fine 
stout Indians. Just within hail they stopped, lay on their 
oars, halloed to us most vociferously, and waved skins above 
their heads. One man was very conspicuous, having on his 
head a tall leathern cap, tapering to a point, which was orna- 
mented with feathers of various gaudy colours ; and around 
the brim of this high conical hat there was also a fringe of 
feathers. This singular character was painted black all over 
from head to foot, except a circle of white round each eye, and 
a few white dots upon his cheeks. By signs we succeeded in 
temptino- them to come alongside the schooner, and were then 
still more struck by their appearance : they were far superior 
to any Fuegians I had seen, being a taller race, more upright, 
and better proportioned ; their limbs were better formed, more 
muscular, rounder, and fuller than those of any canoe Indians 
of the Strait of Magalhaens or Barbara Channel ; and their 
skins were cleaner as well as clearer, which was probably the 
reason why we thought them lighter coloured than the others 
whom we had seen. The length of back, so remarkable in a 
Fuegian, was not very discernible in these people, neither were 
they by any means so ugly as the former ; indeed a rather 
pleasing smile was sometimes noticed on the younger faces. 
None among them were much smoke-dried, nor did their eyes 
look red and watery. There did not appear to be one of the 
party above a middle age, and most of them were young. Three 
of the men had lost each an upper incisor tooth, and one had 
a long though not deep scar upon the breast. We all pro- 
nounced these people to belong to a finer race than we had 


seen on the water, and the size of their canoes was quite 
beyond anything hitherto noticed : they were near thirty feet in 
length and seven feet broad, with proportionate depth, being 
made of planks sewn together with strips of twisted bark and 
rushes : the bow and stern were flat, and nearly upright. Six 
round pieces of wood formed the thwarts, which were fastened 
to the gunwale by ropes of twisted rushes ; and there were 
six short oars on each side. These oars were about seven feet 
long, the blade being a flat piece of wood about sixteen inches 
in length, fastened to the handle by rush rope passed through 
two holes in the blade. Of such burthen were these boats 
(rather than canoes), that two men standing on one gunwale 
did not bring it down to the water. Each was steered by an 
old woman, who sat silently abaft ^vith a paddle. All the 
party were quite naked excepting the old women. 

" From one of the old women a small bag was obtained, 
in exchange for a shirt and some woollen stuff, which proved to 
contain white dust, feathers, parrots' heads, hawks' feet, white 
earth, and red ochre. One of the men had an old hatchet, and 
made signs that he wanted to sharpen it at our grindstone : of 
course we compKed with his request, and allowed a man and a 
young lad to come on boai'd for that purpose. The lad turned 
the stone, while the man held the axe ; and extremely well it 
was sharpened. The spears and slings were similar to those 
seen in other places. 

" Although these natives seemed to be remarkably well dis- 
posed, it was not quite pleasant to see thirty of them looking 
over the schooner's bulwark, while our boats were away and 
only five or six men left on board : however, they made no 
attempt to do any thing improper, and before sunset left us 
peaceably, striking up a song as they paddled away." 

Mr. Eynoe remarked, that in the neighbourhood of Easter 
Bay (Obstruction Sound), the country had much the appear- 
ance of English park scenery ; large clumps of trees growing 
straight and tall, with intervening spaces of clear ground co- 
vered with long grass. In this place he found great numbers 
of wigwams and deserted canoes. Some of the former were of 



large dimensions, and various shapes : two were like inverted 
whale-boats, each of which might hold forty or fifty people ; 
and in the long ones (six feet high), Mr. Bynoe could walk 
upright. All of them were built of slight materials, such as 
branches of trees covered with long grass. Five or six large 
wigwams stood together in each place ; and near them canoes 
had evidently been built, for many trees had been felled and 
barked close by. The traces of fire were visible, which had 
been trained around the roots of the trees ; and many large 
pieces of bark were lying about, partly sewed together. Four 
good canoes were found in one place, one of the four being 
quite new : and there were many old or broken ones. They also 
saw on nearly every sandy point a neatly-constructed small 
wigwam, about two feet high, at the entrance of which was a 
platted rush noose, intended as a snare to catch swans pro- 
bably, which were numerous about the adjoining grounds, and 
generally roost on those sandy points. Many deer, like a kind 
of roebuck, were seen by Mr. Bynoe, but he did not succeed 
in shooting one. Horse tracks were seen near the upper part of 
Obstruction Sound ; showing that the eastern Patagonians 
occasionally visit this part of the western coast. Mr. Bynoe 
suggested the possibility of the natives of Skyring Water tra- 
velling overland, building canoes, and then going northward 
along the west coast ; but I do not myself think it so likely as 
that the Chonos Indians should select such a spot, abounding 
in food, to pass their winter in, or to stay at for a considerable 
time Avhile building canoes. Probably, when Mr. Bynoe was 
there (being summer-time) the tribe, whose winter quarters it 
had been, were dispersed along the sea-coast in search of 
seal, eggs, and young birds. In support of his idea Mr. By- 
noe says, " I only met one canoe, and that of the bark kind, 
in the Mesier Channel : whence could that one have come ? 
None of the bark canoes have been seen by us on the west 
coast, excepting in that instance, and in Obstruction Sound. 
The distance from Skyring Water to the head of Obstruction 
Sound is small, though sufficiently difficult to traverse to 
prevent transporting canoes, because of low prickly brushwood. 


How can we account for the numerous canoes stranded in Ob- 
struction Sound, excepting by a supposition that the natives, 
after using them in a north-westerly excursion, left them 
behind at their return, as they may have left others on the 
shores of Skyring Water ? These canoes were all of bark, 
and rather smaller than those usually made by the southern 
Fuegians." Should this be the case, there can no longer be 
any doubt of the non-existence of a direct passage between 
Skyring Water and the Smyth Channel (leading northwards 
from Magalhaens Strait). Perhaps the horse Indians sometimes 
stay in the neighbourhood of Obstruction Sound, and oblige 
their slaves (zapallos) to build canoes and swan-traps, to fish 
for them, and even make excursions for seal. 

Mr. Bynoe saw many nutria among the islands of Western 
Patagonia, and a great number of otters. Brant-geese, swans, 
ducks, and rock-geese were also plentiful in particular places, 
but not generally. Besides the wild potato, found on the 
Guaianaco islands (mentioned in the first volume), Mr. Bynoe 
noticed, in the Gulf of Peiias, an abundance of the plant 
called ' pangue,' which grows also in Chiloe, and is so much 
liked by the Chilotes. 

Mr. Low said that natives whom he met in the Gulf of Tri- 
nidad relished potatoes which he gave them, and asked for 
more. They pointed towards the north and used the word 
' aquinas," which he recognized as being the term used for 
potatoes by the aborigines at the south of Chiloe. 

A native who was on board the Adeona in one of her excur- 
sions among the western islands of Patagonia induced Low to 
take long walks in search of potatoes, which never were found ; 
and afterwards, in the Mesier Channel, he persuaded him to go 
about in quest of seals, until an opportunity offered for escap- 
ing to a small party of his own tribe whom he met there. When 
taxed by the crew with deceiving Mr. Low about the potatoes, 
he fell into (or affected) a violent passion, and sprung at the 
nearest man, grappling him in a most determined and malicious 

Having now mentioned all that I know respecting the Canoe 

DOGS. 201 

Indians (excepting some facts i-elated by Capt. King in vol. i.), 
I will add a few words about their constant and faithful com- 
panion, the dog : and then continue the narrative. 

The dog of a Fuegian or Chonos Indian is small, active, and 
wiry, like a terrier with a cross of fox. His hair is usually 
rough, and dusky, or dark-coloured ; but there are many dogs 
among the Fuegians almost white, or prettily spotted, some of 
which have fine smooth hair. All that wei-e examined had 
the roof of their mouth black, the ears erect, large, and pointed ; 
the nose sharp, like that of a fox ; the tail drooping, and 
rather inclined to be bushy. They are exceedingly vigilant 
and faithful. Their sagacity is shown in many ways, some of 
which I have already noticed ; and not least, in their providing 
for themselves, each low-water, by cunningly detaching limpets 
from the rocks, or by breaking muscle and other shells, and 
then eating the fish. 

These dogs bark at strangers with much fury : and they 
give tongue eagerly when hunting the otter.* 

• Byron says they do so likewise when driving fish into corners. 

Note to page 185. — The Fuegian necklaces show some ingenuity in 
those who make thera, being composed of small shells, perforated very 
neatly, and fastened together on strings of sinews or gut, so finely divided 
and platted, that one is, at first, inclined to doubt their being the manu- 
facture of such uncouth savages. 


Set out to land Matthews and the Fuegians — Their meeting with Natives 
— Supposed Volcano — Dream — Oens-men — Scene — Arrival at Woollya 
— Encampment — Concourse of Natives — Jemmy's Family — Wigwams 
— Gardens — Distrust — Experiment — Westward Exploration — Remove 
Matthews — Revisit Woollya — Gale — Sail for the Falkland Islands. 

At the end of Chapter vi., I described our preparations 
for landing the Fuegians, who had been in England, among 
their own countrymen ; and now, having attempted to give a 
fuller idea of those people, the narrative of our proceedings 
shall be continued. 

Jan. 19, 1833. The yawl, being heavily laden, was towed 
by the other three boats, and, while her sails were set, went 
almost as fast as they did ; but after passing Cape Rees, and 
altering our course to the westward, we were obliged to drag 
her along by strength of arm against wind and current. The 
first day no natives were seen, though we passed along thirty 
miles of coast, and reached Cutfinger Cove. (This name was 
given because one of our party, Robinson by name, almost 
deprived himself of two fingers by an axe slipping with which 
he was cutting wood.) At this place, or rather from a hill 
above it, the view was striking. Close to us was a mass of 
very lofty heights, shutting out the cold southerly winds, and 
collecting a few rays of sunshine which contrived to struggle 
through the frequent clouds of Tierra del Fuego. Opposite, 
beyond a deep arm of the sea, five miles wide, appeared an 
extensive range of mountains, whose extremes the eye could not 
trace ; and to the westward we saw an immense canal, looking 
like a work of gigantic art, extending between parallel ranges 
of mountains, of which the summits were capped with snow, 
though their sides were covered by endless forests. This sin- 
gular canal-like passage is almost straight and of nearly an 


uniform width (overlooking minute details) for one hundred 
and twenty miles. 

20th. We passed the clay cliffs, spoken of in the former 
volume, first visited by Mr. Murray. They narrow the channel 
to less than a mile, but, being low, were beneath the horizon 
of our eye at Cutfinger Cove : — westward of them the chan- 
nel widens again to its usual breadth of two miles. Several 
natives were seen in this day's pull ; but as Jemmy told us they 
were not his friends, and often made war upon his people, we 
held very little intercourse with them. York laughed heartily 
at the first we saw, calling them large monkeys ; and Jemmy 
assured us they were not at all like his people, who were very 
good and very clean. Fuegia was shocked and ashamed ; she 
hid herself, and would not look at them a second time. It was 
interesting to observe the change which three years only had 
made in their ideas, and to notice how completely they had 
forgotten the appearance and habits of their former associates ; 
for it turned out that Jemmy's own tribe was as inferior in 
every way as the worst of those whom he and York called 
" monkeys — dirty — fools — not men." 

We gave these ' Yapoos,' as York called them, some pre- 
sents, and crossed over to the north side of the channel to be 
free from their importunities; but they followed us speedily, 
and obliged us to go on further westward than was at all 
agreeable, considering the labour required to make way against 
a breeze and a tide of a mile an hour. When we at last landed 
to pass the night, we found that the forests on the sides of the 
mountains had been burned for many leagues ; and as we were 
not far from the place where a volcano was supposed to exist, 
in consequence of flames having been seen by a ship passing 
Cape Horn, it occurred to me that some conflagration, like 
that of which we found the signs, might have caused appear- 
ances resembling the eruption of a distant volcano : and I have 
since been confirmed in this idea, from having witnessed a 
volcano in eruption ; and, not long afterwards, a conflagration, 
devouring many miles of mountain forest ; both of which, at a 
distance, shewed lines of fire, fitful flashes, and sudden gleams. 


Persons who have witnessed a forest bvirning on the side of a 
mountain, will easily perceive how, when seen from a distance, 
it may resemble the eruption of a volcano ; but to those who 
have not seen fire on such a scale, I may remark that each gust 
of wind, or temporary calm ; each thick wood, or comparatively 
barren space ; augments or deadens the flames so suddenly, as 
the fire sweeps along the mountain side, that, at a distance of 
fifty miles or more, the deception may be complete. 

22d. Favoured by beautiful weather, we passed along a tract 
of country where no natives were seen. Jemmy told us it was 
" land between bad people and his friends;" (neutral-ground 
probably). This evening we reached a cove near the Murray 
Narrow; and from a small party of Tekeenica natives. Jemmy's 
friends, whom we found there, he heard of his mother and 
brothers, but found that his father was dead. Poor Jemmy 
looked very grave and mysterious at the news, but showed no 
other symptom of sorrow. He reminded Bennett* of the dream 
(related in the previous chapter), and then went for some green 
branches, which he burned, watching them with a solemn look : 
after which he talked and laughed as usual, never once, of his 
own accord, recurring to the subject of his father''s decease. 
The language of this small party, who were the first of Jemmy's 
own tribe whom we met, seemed softer and less guttural than 
those of the " bad men" whom we had passed near the clay 
cliffs ; and the people themselves seemed much better disposed, 
though as abject and degraded in outward appearance as any 
Fuegians I had ever seen. There were three men and two 
women : when first we were seen they all ran away, but upon 
two of our party landing and advancing quietly, the men 
returned and were soon at their ease. Jemmy and York then 
tried to speak to them ; but to our surprise, and much to my 
sorrow, we found that Jemmy had almost forgotten his native 
language, and that, of the two, York, although belonging to 
another tribe, was rather the best interpreter. In a few minutes 
the natives comprehended that we should do them no hai-m ; 
and they then called back their women, who were hiding in the 

• My coxswain. 


woods, and established themselves, very confidently, in a wig- 
wam within a hundred yards of our tents. During this and 
the preceding day, we found the weather, by comparison, so 
mild, even warm, that several of our party bathed ; yet the ther- 
mometer ranged only to 53° in the shade, and at night fell to 
40°. The temperature of the sea was 48°. 

Being within a few hours' pull (row) of Jemmy's ' own land,' 
which he called Woollya, we all felt eager, though anxious, 
and I was much gratified by seeing that Matthews still looked 
at his hazardous undertaking as steadily as ever, betraying 
no symptom of hesitation. The attentions which York paid to 
his intended wife, Fuegia, afforded much amusement to our 
party. He had long shewn himself attached to her, and had 
gradually become excessively jealous of her good- will. If any 
one spoke to her, he watched every word ; if he was not sitting 
by her side, he grumbled sulkily ; but if he was accidentally 
separated, and obliged to go in a different boat, his beliaviour 
became sullen and morose. This evening he was quizzed so 
much about her that he became seriously angry, and I was 
obliged to interpose to prevent a quarrel between him and one 
of his steadiest friends. 

On this and previous evenings, as we sat round the blaz- 
ing piles, which our men seemed to think could never be large 
enough, we heard many long stories from Jemmy about the 
Oens, or Coin men, who live beyond the mountains at the north 
side of the Beagle Channel, and almost every year make despe- 
rate inroads upon the Tekeenica tribe, carrying off Avomen 
and children, dogs, arrows, spears, and canoes ; and killing 
the men whom they succeed in making prisoners. He told us 
that these Oens-men made their annual excursions at the time of 
'red leaf;' that is in April or May, when the leaves of deci- 
duous trees are changing colour and beginning to fall ; just 
the time of year also when the mountains are least difficult to 

At that period these invaders sometimes come down to the 
shores of the Beagle Channel in parties of from fifty to a hun- 
dred ; seize upon canoes belonging to the Yapoo division of 

206 OEXs-MEN — ARRIVALS. Jan. 

the Tekeonica tribe, cross over to Navarin Island, and tlience 
sometimes to others, driving the smaller and much inferior 
Tekeenica people before them in every direction. By Jemmy's 
own account, however, there are hard battles sometimes, and 
the Oens tribe lose men ; but as they always contrive to carry 
away their dead, it seems that the advantage of strength is on 
their side. 

These periodical invasions of a tribe whose abode is in the 
north-eastern quarter of Tierra del Fuego are not to be con- 
founded with the frequent disputes and skirmishes ^which take 
place between the two Tekeenica tribes ; and it is interesting 
to compare what we thus heard with the account obtained by 
Oliver Van Noort in 1589 : who learnt that the people lived in 
caves dug in the earth, * and that there were five tribes — four 
of ordinary stature and one of gigantic size. These giants, 
called Tiremenen, lived in ' Coin.' The other tribes were called 
Enoo, Kemenites, Karaike, and Kenneka. 

23d. While embarking our tents and cooking utensils, seve- 
ral natives came running over the hills towards us, breathless 
with haste, perspiring violently, and bleeding at the nose. 
Startled at their appearance, we thought they had been fight- 
ing ; but it appeared in a few moments, that having heard of 
our arrival, they lost not a moment in hurrying across the 
hills from a place near WooUya, and that the bloody noses 
which had surprised us were caused by the exertion of running. 
This effect has been noticed among the New Hollanders, I 
believe the islanders of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the 
Esquimaux, and probably others; but to our party it was 
then a novelty, and rather alarming. 

Scarcely had we stowed the boats and embarked, before canoes 
began to appear in every direction, in each of which was a 
stentor hailing us at the top of his voice. Faint sounds of 
deep voices were heard in the distance, and around us echoes 
to the shouts of our nearer friends began to reverberate, and 
warned me to hasten away before our movements should be- 

* The ground within a wigwam is scooped out considerably. 


come impeded by he number of canoes which I knew would 
soon throng around us. Although now among natives who 
seemed to be friendly, and to whom Jemmy and York con- 
trived to explain the motives of our visit, it was still highly 
necessary to be on our guard. Of those men and boys who ran 
over the hills to us, all were of Jemmy's tribe excepting one 
man, whom he called an Oens-man ; but it was evident, from 
his own description, that the man belonged to the Yapoo, or 
eastern Tekeenica tribe, and was living in safety among his 
' usual enemies, as a hostage for the security of a man belonging 
to Jemmy's tribe who was staying among the eastern people. 

As we steered out of the cove in which our boats had been 
sheltered, a striking scene opened : beyond a lake-like expanse 
of deep blue water, mountains rose abruptly to a great height, 
and on their icy summits the sun's early rays glittered as if 
on a mirror. Immediately round us were mountainous emi- 
nences, and dark cliffy precipices which cast a very deep 
shadow over the still water beneath them. In the distant 
west, an opening appeared where no land could be seen ; and 
to the south was a cheerful sunny woodland, sloping gradually 
down to the Murray Narrow, at that moment almost undis- 
tinguishable. As our boats became visible to the natives, who 
were eagerly paddling towards the cove from every direction, 
hoarse shouts arose, and, echoed about by the cliffs, seemed 
to be a continual cheer. In a very short time there were 
thirty or forty canoes in our train, each full of natives, each 
with a column of blue smoke rising from the fire amidships, 
and almost all the men in them shouting at the full power of 
their deep sonorous voices. As we pursued a winding course 
around the bases of high rocks or between islets covered with 
wood, continual additions were made to our attendants ; and 
the day being very fine, without a breeze to ruffle the water, 
it was a scene which carried one's thoughts to the South Sea 
Islands, but in Tierra del Fuego almost appeared like a dream. 
After a~few hours (pulling hard to keep a-head of our train) 
we reached WooUya, and selected a clear space favourably 
situated for our encampment, landed, marked a boundary-line. 


placed sentries, and made the various arrangements necessary 
for receiving the anticipated visits of some hundred natives. 
We had time to do all this quietly, as our boats had distanced 
their pursuers several miles, while running from the Murray 
Narrow before a favourable breeze which sprung up, and, to 
our joy, filled every sail. 

We were much pleased by the situation of Woollya, and 
Jemmy was very proud of the praises bestowed upon his land. 
Rising gently from the water-side, there are considerable 
spaces of clear pasture land, well watered by brooks, and 
backed by hills of moderate height, where we afterwards found 
woods of the finest timber trees in the country. Rich grass 
and some beautiful flowers, which none of us had ever seen, 
pleased us when we landed, and augured well for the growth 
of our garden seeds. 

At our first approach, only a few natives appeared, who 
were not of Jemmy's family. The women ran away and hid 
themselves, but Jemmy and York contrived (with difficulty) 
to make the men comprehend the reason of our visit; and their 
awkward explanation, helped by a few presents, gradually put 
them at ease. They soon understood our meaning when we 
pointed to the boundary-line which they were not to pass. 
This bne was on the shore between our tents and the grass- 
land ; immediately behind the tents was a good landing-place, 
always sheltered, where our boats were kept in readiness in 
case of any sudden necessity. 

Soon after our arrangements were made, the canoes which 
had been following us began to arrive ; but, much to my satis- 
faction, the natives landed in coves at some distance from us, 
where the women remained with the canoes while the men 
and boys came overland to our little camp. This was very 
favourable for us, because it divided their numbers and left 
our boats undisturbed. We had only to guard our front, 
instead of being obliged to look out all round, as I had 
expected ; and really it would have been no trifling affair to 
watch the pilfering hands and feet of some hundred natives, 
while many of our own party (altogether only thirty in nuni- 

ill II''' 



ber) were occupied at a distance, cutting wood, digging 
ground for a garden, or making wigwams for Matthews, 
York, and Jemmy. 

As the natives thronged to our boundary-line (a mere mark 
made with a spade on the ground), it was at first difficult to 
keep them back without using force ; but by good temper on 
the part of our men, by distributing several presents, and by 
the broken Fuegian explanations of our dark-coloured ship- 
mates, we succeeded in getting the natives squatted on their 
hams around the line, and obtaining influence enough over 
them to prevent their encroaching. 

Canoes continued to arrive ; their owners hauled them ashore 
on the beach, sent the women and children to old wigwams at 
a Uttle distance, and hastened themselves to see the strangers. 
While I was engaged in watching the proceedings at our 
encampment, and poor Jemmy was getting out of temper at 
the quizzing he had to endure on account of his countrymen, 
whom he had extolled so highly until in sight, a deep voice 
was heard shouting from a canoe more than a mile distant : 
up started Jemmy from a bag full of nails and tools which he 
was distributing, leaving them to be scrambled for by those 
nearest, and, upon a repetition of the shout, exclaimed " My 
brother!" He then told me that it was his eldest brother's voice, 
and perched himself on a large stone to watch the canoe, which 
approached slowly, being small and loaded with several people. 
When it arrived, instead of an eager meeting, there was a 
cautious circumspection which astonished us. Jemmy walked 
slowly to meet the party, consisting of his mother, two sisters, 
and four brothers. The old woman hardly looked at him 
before she hastened away to secure her canoe and hide her 
property, all she possessed — a basket containing tinder, fire- 
stone, paint, &c., and a bundle of fish. The girls ran off 
with her without even looking at Jemmy ; and the brothers 
(a man and three boys) stood still, stared, walked up to Jemmy, 
and all round him, without uttering a word. Animals when 
they meet show far more animation and anxiety than was 
displayed at this meeting. Jemmy was evidently much morti- 



fied, and to add to his confusion and disappointment, as well 
as my own, he was unable to talk to his brothers, except by 
broken sentences, in which English predominated. After a 
few minutes had elapsed, his elder brother began to talk to 
him ; but although Jemmy understood what was said, he could 
not reply. York and Fuegia were able to understand some 
words, but could not or did not choose to speak. 

This first evening of our stay at Woollya was rather an 
anxious one ; for although the natives seemed inclined to be 
quite friendly, and they all left us at sunset, according to their 
invariable practice, it was hard to say what mischief might 
not be planned by so numerous a party, fancying, as they 
probably would, that we were inferior to them in strength, 
because so few in number. Jemmy passed the evening with 
his mother and brothers, in their wigwam, but returned to us 
to sleep. York, also, and Fuegia were going about among the 
natives at their wigwams, and the good effect of their inter- 
course and explanations, such as they were, was visible next 
day (24th) in the confident, familiar manner of the throng 
which surrounded us while we began to dig ground for gar- 
dens, as well as cut wood for large wigwams, in which Mat- 
thews and his party were to be established. Canoes still 
arrived, but their owners seemed as well-disposed as the rest 
of the natives, many of whom assisted us in carrying wood, 
and bringing bundles of grass or rushes to thatch the wig- 
wams which they saw we were making, in a pleasant shel- 
tered spot, near a brook of excellent water. One wigwam was 
for Matthews, another for Jemmy, and a third for York and 
Fuegia. York told me that Jemmy's brother was "very 
much friend," that the country was " very good land," and 
that he wished to stay with Jemmy and Matthews. 

A small plot of ground was selected near the wigwams, and, 
during our stay, dug, planted and sowed with potatoes, carrots, 
turnips, beans, peas, lettuce, onions, leeks, and cabbages. 
Jemmy soon clothed his mother and brothers, by the assis- 
tance of his friends. For a garment which I sent the old woman 
she returned me a large quantity of fish, all she had to offei- ; 

1833. WASHING DOCTOR. 211 

and when she was dressed, Jemmy brought her to see me. His 
brothers speedily became rich in old clothes, nails and tools, 
and the eldest were soon known among the seamen as Tommy 
Button and Harry Button, but the younger ones usually staid 
at their wigwams, which were about a quarter of a mile distant. 
So quietly did affairs proceed, that the following day (25th) a 
few of our people went on the hills in search of guanacoes : 
many were seen, but they were too wild to approach. An old 
man arrived, who was said to be Jemmy's uncle, his father's bro- 
ther ; and many strangers came, who seemed to belong to the 
Yapoo Tekeenica tribe. Jemmy did not like their visit ; he 
said they were bad people, ' no friends.' 

26th. While some of my party were washing in a stream, 
stripped to the waist, several natives collected round, and were 
much amused at the white skins, as well as at the act of 
washing, so new probably to them. One of them ran to the 
nearest wigwams, and a troop of curious gazers collected, 
whose hands, however, were soon so actively employed in 
abstracting the handkerchiefs, shoes, &c., which had been laid 
on the bank, that a stop was put to the ablutions. 

We discovered that Jemmy's eldest brother was a ' doctor,' 
and though young for his occupation of conjuring and pre- 
tending to cure illness, he was held in high estimation among 
his own tribe. I never could distinctly ascertain whether the 
eldest man, or the doctor of a tribe had the most influence; but 
from what little I could learn, it appeared to me that the 
elder of a family or tribe had a sort of executive authority, 
while the doctor gave advice, not only in domestic affairs, but 
with respect to most transactions. In all savage nations, I believe 
there is a person of this description — a pretended prophet — 
conjuror — and, to a certain degree, — doctor. 

This evening our party were employed for a short time in 
firing at a mark, with the three-fold object of keeping our arms 
in order — exercising the men — and aw eing, without frightening, 
the natives. While this was going on, the Fuegians sat about on 
their hams, watching our proceedings, and often eagerly talk- 
ing to each other, as successful shots were made at the target, 

p 2 


Avhich was intentionally placed so that they could see the effect 
of the balls. At sunset they went away as usual, but looking 
very grave, and talking earnestly. About an hour after dark, 
the sentry saw something moving along the ground near our 
tents, within the boundary line, which he thought was a 
wild animal, and had just levelled his rausket to fire at it, 
when he discovered it was a man, who instantly darted off, and 
was lost in the darkness. Some native had doubtless stolen to 
the tents, to see what we were doing ; perhaps with a view to 
surprise us, if asleep, perhaps only to steal. 

27th. While a few of our party were completing the thatch 
of the last wigwam, and others were digging in the garden 
which was made, I was much surprised to see that all the 
natives were preparing to depart ; and very soon afterwards 
every canoe was set in motion, — not half a dozen natives 
remaining. Even Jemmy's own family, his mother and bro- 
thers, left us ; and as he could give no explanation of this 
sudden departure, I was in much doubt as to the cause. 
Whether an attack was meditated, and they were removing 
the women and cliildren, previous to a general assembly of the 
men, or whether they had been frightened by our display on 
the preceding evening, and feared that we intended to attack 
them, I could not ascertain ; but deeming the latter by far the 
most probable, I decided to take the opportunity of their 
departure to give Matthews his first trial of passing a night at 
the new wigwams. 

Some among us thought that the natives intended to make 
a secret attack, on account of the great temptation our pro- 
perty offered ; and in consequence of serious offence which had 
been taken by two or three old men, who tried to force them- 
selves into our encampment, while I was at a little distance ; 
one of whom, when resisted by the sentry, spit in his face ; and 
went off in a violent passion, muttering to himself, and every 
now and then turning round to make faces and angry ges- 
tures at the man who had very quietly, though firmly, pre- 
vented his encroachment. 

In consequence of this incident, and other symptoms of a 


disposition to try their strength, having more than three hun- 
dred men, while we were but thirty, I had thought it ad- 
visable, as I mentioned, to give them some idea of the wea- 
pons we had at command, if obliged to use them, by firing 
at a mark. Probably two-thirds of the natives arovmd us at 
that time had never seen a gun fired, being strangers, coming 
from the Beagle Channel and its neighbourhood, where no ves- 
sel had been ; and although our exercise might have frightened 
them more than I wished, so much, indeed, as to have induced 
them to leave the place, it is not improbable that, without some 
such demonstration, they might have obliged us to fire at them 
instead of the target. So many strangers had arrived during 
the few days we remained, I mean strangers to Jemmy's family 
— men of the eastern tribe, which he called Yapoo — that his 
brothers and mother had no longer any influence over the 
majority, who cared for them as little as they did for us, and 
were intent only upon plunder. Finding this the case, I con- 
clude that Jemmy's fi'iends thought it wise to retreat to a 
neighbouring island before any attack commenced ; but why 
they did not tell Jemmy their reasons for going, I know not, 
neither could he tell me more than that they said they were 
going to fish, and would return at night. This, however, they 
did not do. 

In the evening, Matthews and his party — Jemmy, York, 
and Fuegia — went to their abode in the three new wigwams. 
In that made for Matthews, Jemmy also took up his quarters 
at first : it was high and roomy for such a construction ; the 
space overhead was divided by a floor of boards, brought from 
the ship, and there most of Matthews' stores were placed ; but 
the most valuable articles were deposited in a box, which was 
hid in the ground underneath the wigwam, where fire could 
not reach. 

Matthews was steady, and as willing as ever ; neither York 
nor Jemmy had the slightest doubt of their being all well- 
treated ; so trusting that Matthews, in his honest intention 
to do good, would obtain that assistance in which he confided, 
I decided to leave him for a few days. The absence of the 


natives, every one of w^hom had decamped at this time, gave a 
good opportunity for landing the larger tools belonging to 
Matthews and our Fuegians, and placing them within or 
beneath his wigwam, unseen by any one except ourselves ; and 
at dusk, all that we could do for them being completed, we 
left the place and sailed some miles to the southward. 

During the four days in which we had so many natives about 
us, of course some thefts were committed, but nothing of 
consequence was stolen. I saw one man talking to Jemmy 
Button, while another picked his pocket of a knife, and even 
the wary York lost something, but from Fuegia they did not 
take a single article ; on the contrary, their kindness to her 
was remarkable, and among the women she was quite a pet. 

Our people lost a few trifles, in consequence of their own 
carelessness. Had they themselves been left among gold and 
diamonds, would they all have refrained from indulging their 
acquisitive inclinations ? 

Notwithstanding the decision into which I had reasoned 
myself respecting the natives, I could not help being exceed- 
ingly anxious about Matthews, and early next morning our 
boats were again steered towards WooUya. My own anxiety 
was increased by hearing the remarks made from time to time 
by the rest of the party, some of whom thought we should not 
again see him ahve ; and it was with no slight joy that I 
caught sight of him, as my boat rounded a point of land, car- 
rying a kettle to the fire near his wigwam. We landed and 
ascertained that nothing had occurred to damp his spirits, or 
in any way check his inclination to make a fair trial. Some 
natives had returned to the place, among them one of Jemmy"'s 
brothers ; but so far were they from showing the slightest ill- 
will, that nothing could be more friendly than their behaviour. 

Jemmy told us that these people, who arrived at daylight 
that morning were his friends, that his own family would come 
in the course of the day, and that the ' bad men,' the stran- 
gers, were all gone away to their own country. 

A further trial was now determined upon. The yawl, with 
one whale-boat, was sent back to the Beagle, and I set out on 


a westward excursion, accompanied by Messrs. Darwin and 
Hamond, in the other two boats : my intention being to com- 
plete the exploration of Whale-boat Sound, and the north-west 
arm of the Beagle Channel ; then revisit Woollya, either leave 
or remove Matthews, as might appear advisable, and repair to 
our ship in Goree Road. With a fair and fresh wind my boat 
and Mr. Hamond's passed the Murray Narrow, and sailed far 
along the channel towards the west, favoured, unusually, by 
an easterly breeze. Just as we had landed, and set up our tent 
for the night, some canoes were seen approaching ; so rather 
than be obliged to watch their movements all night, we at once 
embarked our tent and half-cooked supper, and pulled along 
the shore some miles further, knowing that they would not 
willingly follow us in the dark. About midnight we landed 
and slept undisturbed. Next day we made little progress, 
the wind having changed, and landed, earlier than usual, 
on the north side of the channel, at Shingle Point. Some 
natives soon appeared, and though few in number, were in- 
clined to give trouble. It was evident they did not know 
the effect of fire-arms ; for if a musket were pointed at them, 
and threatening gestures used, they only made faces at us, and 
mocked whatever we did. Finding them more and more inso- 
lent and troublesome, I preferred leaving them to risking a 
struggle, in which it might become necessary to fire, at the 
hazard of destroying life. Twelve armed men, therefore, 
gave way to six unarmed, naked savages, and went on to ano- 
ther cove, where these annoying, because ignorant natives 
could not see us. 

On the 29th we reached Devil Island, and found the large 
wigwam still standing, which in 1830 my boat's crew called 
the ' Parliament House.' Never, in any part of Tierra del 
Fueo-o, have I noticed the remains of a wigwam which seemed 
to have been burned or pulled down ; probably there is some 
feeling on the subject, and in consequence the natives allow 
them to decay naturally, but never wilfully destroy them. We 
enjoyed a grand view of the lofty mountain, now called Darwin, 
with its immense glaciers extending far and wide. Whether 


this mountain is equal to Sarmiento in height, I am not cer- 
tain, as the measurements obtained did not rest upon satisfactory 
data ; but the result of those measures gave 6,800 feet for its 
elevation above the sea. This, as an abstract height, is small, 
but taking into consideration that it rises abruptly from the 
sea, which washes its base, and that only a short space intervenes 
between the salt water and the lofty frozen summit, the effect 
upon an observer's eye is extremely grand, and equal, probably, 
to that of far higher mountains which are situated at a distance 
inland, and generally rise from an elevated district. 

We stopped to cook and eat our hasty meal upon a low 
point of land, immediately in front of a noble precipice of solid 
ice ; the cliffy face of a huge glacier, which seemed to cover the 
side of a mountain, and completely filled a valley several 
leagues in extent. 

Wherever these enormous glaciers were seen, we remarked 
the most beautiful light blue or sea green tints in portions of 
the solid ice, caused by varied transmission, or reflection of 
light. Blue was the prevailing colour, and the contrast which 
its extremely delicate hue, with the dazzling white of other 
ice, afforded to the dark green foliage, the almost black pre- 
cipices, and the deep, indigo blue water, was very remarkable. 

Miniature icebergs surrounded us; fragments of the cliff, 
which from time to time fall into a deep and gloomy basin 
beneath the precipice, and are floated out into the channel by 
a slow tidal stream. In the first volume the frequent falling 
of these masses of ice is noticed by Captain King in the Strait 
of Magalhaens, and in the narrative of my first exploring visit 
to this arm of the Beagle Channel ; therefore I will add no fur- 
ther remark upon the subject. 

Our boats were hauled up out of the water upon the sandy 
point, and we were sitting round a fire about two hundred 
yards from them, when a thundering crash shook us — down 
came the whole front of the icy cliff — and the sea surged up in 
a vast heap of foam. Reverberating echoes sounded in every 
direction, from the lofty mountains which hemmed us in ; but 
our whole attention was immediately called to great rolling waves 


which came so rapidly that there was scarcely time for the most 
active of our party to run and seize the boats before they were 
tossed along the beach like empty calabashes. By the exer- 
tions of those who grappled them or seized their ropes, they 
were hauled up again out of reach of a second and third roller ; 
and indeed we had good reason to rejoice that they were just 
saved in time ; for had not Mr. Darwin, and two or three of 
the men, run to them instantly, they would have been swept 
away from us irrecoverably. Wind and tide would soon have 
drifted them beyond the distance a man could swim ; and then, 
what prizes they would have been for the Fuegians, even if we 
had escaped by possessing ourselves of canoes. At the extre- 
mity of the sandy point on which we stood, there were many 
large blocks of stone, which seemed to have been transported 
from the adjacent mountains, either upon masses of ice, or by 
the force of waves such as those which we witnessed. Had our 
boats struck those blocks, instead of soft sand, our dilemma 
would not have been much less than if they had been at once 
swept away. 

Embarking, we proceeded along a narrow passage, more like 
a river than an arm of the sea, till the setting sun warned us to 
seek a resting-place for the night ; when, selecting a beach 
very far from any glacier, we again hauled our boats on shore. 
Long after the sun had disappeared from our view, his setting 
rays shone so brightly upon the gilded icy sides of the summits 
above us, that twihght lasted an unusual time, and a fine clear 
evening enabled us to watch every varying tint till even the 
highest peak became like a dark shadow, whose outline only 
could be distinguished. No doubt such scenes are familiar to 
many, but to us, surrounded even as we so often were by their 
materials, they were rare ; because clouds continually hang 
over the heights, or obscure the little sunshine which falls to 
the lot of Tierra del Fueso. 

The following day (30th) we passed into a large expanse of 
water, which I named Darwin Sound — after my messmate, 
who so willingly encountered the discomfort and risk of a long 
cruise in a small loaded boat. Desirous of finding an opening 


northwards, I traced the northern shore of this sound, mile 
by mile, leaving all islands to the southward until we entered 
Whale-boat Sound, and I recognized Cape Desolation in the 
distance, as well as a number of minor points which had 
become famiUar to me during the search after our lost boat in 
the former voyage (1830). 

Feb. 2. Having done what was necessary and attainable for 
the purposes of the survey, we traversed Whale-boat Sound, 
and stopped for a time at an old bivouac, used by me twice 
before, on an islet near the east extremity of the largest Stew- 
art Island. While the boat's crew were occupied in preparing 
our meal, I went to Stewart Island, and from a small eminence 
saw Mount Sarmiento quite distinctly. We next steered east- 
ward, along the north side of the Londonderry Islands, and 
passed the night in a narrow passage. On the 3d we got to the 
open sea at the south side of Darwin Sound, and entered the 
south-west arm of the Beagle Channel rather too late, for it 
had become so dark we could distinguish no place fit to receive 
us ; however, after much scrutiny and anxious sounding, to 
ascertain if our boats could approach without danger of being 
stove, we were guided by the sound of a cascade to a shel- 
tered cove, where the beach was smooth. Excepting for the 
novelty and excitement of exploring unknown places, however 
uninteresting they may be, there was little in this trip worthy 
of general notice, considering how much has already been said 
of these unprofitable regions. Even to a professed naturalist, 
there was scarcely anything to repay the time and trouble, as it 
was impossible to delay long enough in any one place to give 
time for more than a most cursory examination. 

I need hardly say that the survey of such places as were 
visited in this hasty manner is little more than an eye-sketch, 
corrected by frequent bearings, occasional latitudes by sun, 
moon, or stars, and meridian distances, measured by two chro- 
nometers, which were always kept in a large box and treated 
very carefully. To have attempted more, to have hoped for 
such an accurate dehneation of these shores, at present almost 
useless to civilized man, as is absolutely necessary where ship- 


ping may resort, would have been wrong, while so many other 
objects demanded immediate attention. 

4th. We sailed along the passage very rapidly, a fresh 
wind and strong tide favouring us. The flood-tide stream set 
two or three knots an hour through this south-west arm of the 
Beagle Channel, but the ebb was scarcely noticed : certainly 
its strength did not, even in the narrowest places, exceed one 
knot an hour. A few Alikhoolip Fuegians were seen in a cove 
on the south shore, ten miles west of Point Divide ; the only 
natives, except a very small party in Darwin Sound, that had 
been met in the excursion since we left the Tekeenica people. 

Near Point Divide we saw a large fire, and approached the 
spot guardedly, supposing that a number of Fuegians must be 
there. No one appeared ; but still the fire burned brightly* 
and we began to think there might be an ambush, or that the 
natives who had been there had fled, but were still in the 
neighbourhood. Approaching nearer, we found that the fire 
was in a large tree, whose trunk it had almost consumed. 
Judging from the slow rate at which the tree burned while we 
were present, I should say it had been on fire two or three 
days, and that the frequent heavy rain had prevented the 
flames from making head. Had the weather been some time 
dry, the adjoining woodland would have blazed, and, as the 
mountain side is steep and covered with trees, the conflagration 
would have been immense. At Point Divide the slate rock 
seemed to be of excellent quality, fit for roofing ; but when 
will roofing slates be required in Tierra del Fuego .'' Perhaps 
though sooner than we suppose ; for the accidental discovery of 
a valuable mine might effect great changes. 

On the south shore, nearly opposite to Shingle Point, we met 
a large party of natives, among whom those who disturbed us at 
that place as we passed westward were recognized. All of them 
appeared in full dress, being bedaubed with red and white 
paint, and ornamented, after their fashion, with feathers and 
the down of geese. One of their women was noticed by several 
among us as being far from ill-looking: her features were 
regular, and, excepting a deficiency of hair on the eyebrow, 


and rather thick lips, the contour of her face was sufficiently 
good to have been mistaken for that of a handsome gipsy. 
What her figure might be, a loose linen garment, evidently 
one that had belonged to Fuegia Basket, prevented our 
noticing. The sight of this piece of linen, several bits of 
ribbon, and some scraps of red cloth, apparently quite recently 
obtained, made me feel very anxious about Matthews and his 
party : there was also an air of almost defiance among these 
people, which looked as if they knew that harm had been done, 
and that they were ready to stand on the defensive if any such 
attack as they expected were put into execution. Passing 
therefore hastily on, we went as far as the light admitted, and 
at daybreak next morning (6th) were again hastening towards 
Woollya. As we shot through the Murray Narrow several 
parties of natives were seen, who were ornamented with strips 
of tartan cloth or white linen, which we well knew were ob- 
tained from our poor friends. No questions were asked ; we 
thought our progress slow, though wind and tide favoured us : 
but, hurrying on, at noon reached Woollya. Several canoes 
were on the beach, and as many natives seemed to be assembled 
as were there two days before we left the place. All were 
much painted, and ornamented with rags of English clothing, 
which we concluded to be the last remnants of our friends'* 
stock. Our boats touched the shore ; the natives came halloo- 
ing and jumping about us, and then, to my extreme relief, 
Matthews appeared, dressed and looking as usual. After him 
came Jemmy and York, also dressed and looking well : Fuegia^ 
they said, was in a wigwam. 

Taking Matthews into my boat, we pushed out a short 
distance to be free from interruption, and remained till I had 
heard the principal parts of his story : the other boat took 
Jemmy on board, and York waited on the beach. Nearly all 
the Fuegians squatted down on their hams to watch our pro- 
ceedings, reminding me of a pack of hounds waiting for a fox 
to be unearthed. 

Matthews gave a bad account of the prospect which he 
saw before him, and told me, that he did not think himself 


safe among such a set of utter savages as he found them to be, 
notwithstanding Jemmy's assurances to the contrary. No 
violence had been committed beyond holding down his head 
by force, as if in contempt of his strength ; but he had been 
harshly threatened by several men, and from the signs used by 
them, he felt convinced they would take his life. During the 
last few days, his time had been altogether occupied in watch- 
ing his property. At first there were only a few quiet natives 
about him, who were inoffensive; but three days after our 
departure several canoes full of strangers to Jemmy''s family 
arrived, and from that time Matthews had had no peace by 
day, and very little rest at night. Some of them were always 
on the look-out for an opportunity to snatch up and run off 
with some tool or article of clothing, and others spent the 
greater part of each day in his wigwam, asking for every thing 
they saw, and often threatening him when he refused to comply 
with their wishes. More than one man went out in a rage, and 
returned immediately with a large stone in his hand, making 
signs that he would kill Matthews if he did not give him what 
was demanded. Sometimes a party of them gathered round 
Matthews, and, if he had nothing to give them, teased him 
by pulling the hair of his face, pushing him about, and making 
mouths at him. His only partizans were the women ; now 
and then he left Jemmy to guard the hut, and went to the 
natives' wigwams, where the women always received him kindly, 
making room for him by their fire, and giving him a share of 
whatever food they had, without asking for any thing in return. 
The men never took the trouble of going with him on these 
visits (which, however, ceased when so many strangers ar- 
rived), their attention being engrossed by the tools, clothes, 
and crockeryware at our shipmate's quarters. Fortunately, 
the most valuable part of Matthews' own things were under- 
ground, in a cave unsuspected by the natives, and other large 
tools were hidden overhead in the roof of his hut. York and 
Fuegia fared very well ; they lost nothing ; but Jemmy was 
sadly plundered, even by his own family. Our garden, upon 
which much labour had been bestowed, had been trampled 


over repeatedly, although Jemmy had done his best to explain 
its object and prevent people from walking there. When 
questioned about it, he looked very sorrowful, and, with a slow 
shake of the head, said, " My people very bad ; great fool ; 
know nothing at all ; very great fool." It was soon decided 
that Matthews should not remain. I considered that he had 
already undergone a severe trial, and ought not to be again 
exposed to such savages, however willing he might be to try 
them farther if I thought it right. The next difficulty was how 
to get Matthews' chest and the remainder of his property safely 
intn our boats, in the face of a hundred Fuegians, who would of 
coarse understand our object, and be much more than a match 
for us on land ; but the less hesitation shown, the less time 
they would have to think of what we were about ; so, dividing 
our party, and spreading about a little to create confidence — at a 
favourable moment the wigwam was quickly cleared, the cave 
emptied, and the contents safely placed in our boats. As I 
stood watching the proceedings, a few anxious moments passed, 
for any kind of skirmish would have been so detrimental to 
the three who were still to remain. When the last man was 
embarked, I distributed several useful articles, such as axes, 
saws, gimblets, knives and nails, among the natives, then 
bade Jemmy and York farewell, promising to see them again 
in a few days, and departed from the wondering throng assem- 
bled on the beach. 

When fairly out of sight of Woollya, sailing with a fair 
wind towards the Beagle, Matthews must have felt almost like 
a man reprieved, excepting that he enjoyed the feelings always 
sure to reward those who try to do their duty, in addition to 
those excited by a sudden certainty of his life being out of 
jeopardy. We slept that night in a cove under Webley Head ; 
sailed early the following morning (7th) along the north side 
of Nassau Bay, and about an hour after dark reached the 
Beagle — found all well, the surveying work about Goree Road 
done, the ship refitted, and quite ready for her next trip. 

A day or two was required for observations and arrange- 
ments, after which (10th) we beat to windward across Nassau 

1833. PONSOXBY SOUND. 223 

Bay, and on the 11th anchored in Scotchwell Bay. A rough 
night was passed under sail between Wollaston and Navarin 
Islands, in which we pretty well proved the clearness of that 
passage, as it blew fresh and we made a great many boards. 

Next day I set out to examine the western part of Ponsonby 
Sound and revisit Woollya. In my absence one party was to 
go westward, overland, to look at the outer coast between 
False Cape and Cape Weddell, and another was to examine 
and make a plan of the bay or harbour in which the Beagle 
lay. In 1830, Mr. Stokes had laid down its shores with 
accuracy on a small scale, but there was not then time to take 
many soundings ; and as I conceived that Orange Bay and 
this harbour were likely to be useful ports, it was worth 
making a particular plan of each. 

12th. With one boat I crossed Tekeenica Sound, and ex- 
plored the western part of Ponsonby Sound. Natives were seen 
here and there, but we had little intercourse with them. Some 
curious effects of volcanic action were obsevred, besides masses 
of conglomerate, such as I had not noticed in any other part 
of Tierra del Fuego. On one islet I was placed in an awkward 
predicament for half an hour ; it was a very steep, precipitous 
hill, which 1 had ascended by climbing or creeping through 
ravines and among trees ; but, wishing to return to the boat's 
crew, after taking a few angles and bearings from its sum- 
mit, I could find no place by which it appeared possible to 
descend. The ravine up which I crawled was hidden by 
wood, and night was at hand. I went to and fro, like a dog 
on a wall, unable to descend, till one of the boat's crew who 
was wandering about heard me call, and, ascending at the 
only accessible place, showed me where to plunge into the 
wood with a prospect of emerging again in a proper direction. 
This night we had dry beautiful weather, the leaves and sticks 
on the ground crackhng under our feet as we walked, while 
at the ship, only sixty miles distant, rain poured ^down inces- 

The night of the 13th was passed on Button Island. This 


also was quite fine, without a drop of rain, while at the ship, 
in Packsaddle Bay, it rained frequently. I mention these 
instances to show how different the climate may be even in 
places so near one another as Packsaddle Bay and Woollya. 

14th. With considerable anxiety T crossed over from Button 
Island to Woollya. Several canoes were out fishing, women 
only being in them, who did not cease their occupation as we 
passed : tliis augured well ; and in a few minutes after we saw 
Jemmy, York, and Fuegia, in their usual dress. But few 
natives were about them, and those few seemed quiet and weU 
disposed. Jemmy complained that the people had stolen many 
of his things, but York and Fuegia had contrived to take 
better care of theirs. I went to their Avigwams and found very 
little change. Fuegia looked clean and tidUy dressed, and by 
her wigwam was a canoe, which York was building out of 
planks left for him by our party. The garden was uninjured, 
and some of the vegetables already sprouting. 

Jemmy told us that strangers had been there, with whom 
he and his people had ' very much jaw,'' that they fought, 
threw 'great many stone,' and stole two women (in exchange 
for whom Jemmy's party stole one), but were obliged to retreat. 
Jemmy's mother came down to the boat to see us ; she was 
decently clothed, by her son's care. He said that his brothers 
were all friendly, and that he should get on very well now that 
the ' strange men' were driven away. I advised Jemmy to take 
his mother and younger brother to his own wigwam, which 
he promised to do, and then, finding that they were all quite 
contented and apparently very happy, I left the place, with 
rather sanguine hopes of their effecting among their country- 
men some change for the better. Jemmy's occupation was 
hollowing out the trunk of a large tree, in order to make such 
a canoe as he had seen at Rio de Janeiro. 

I hoped that through their means our motives in taking them 
to England would become understood and appreciated among 
their associates, and that a future visit might find them so 
favourably disposed towards us, that Matthews might then 


undertake, with a far better prospect of success, that enter- 
prise which circumstances had obliged him to defer, though not 
to abandon altogether. 

Having completed our work in Packsaddle Bay on the 18th, 
the Beagle went to the inlet originally called Windhond Bay, 
a deep place full of islets : thence, on the 19th, she moved to 
Gretton Bay, on the north side of Wollaston Island, and to 
Middle Cove. On the 20th, it was blowing a gale of wind 
from the south-west, but we pushed across before it to Goree 
Road, knowing that we should there find secure anchorage, 
and be unmolested by the furious williwaws which whirled over 
the high peaks of Wollaston Island. 

We weighed from Goree Road on the 21st, and ran under 
close-reefed topsails to Good Success Bay, where our anchors 
were dropped in the evening. The night of the 22d was one 
of the most stormy I ever witnessed. Although close to a 
weather shore in a snug cove, upon good holding ground, with 
masts struck and yards braced as sharp as possible, the wind 
was so furious that both bowers were brought a-head with a 
cable on each, and the sheet anchor (having been let go early) 
had half a cable on it, the depth of water being only ten 
fathoms. During some of the blasts, our fore-yard bent so 
much that I watched it with anxiety, thinking it would be 
sprung. The storm being from the westward, threw no sea into 
the cove, but I several times expected to be driven out of our 
place of refuge, if not shelter. During part of the time we 
waited in Good Success Bay for an interval of tolerable wea- 
ther, in which we might cross to the Falkland Islands without 
being molested by a gale, there was so much surf on the shore 
that our boats could not land, even while the wind was mode- 
rate in the bay. 

While we were prisoners on board, some fish were caught, 
among which was a skate, four feet in length and three feet 
wide. Several fine cod-fish, of the same kind as those off Cape 
Fairweather, were also hooked, and much relished. 

On the 26th we sailed, passed through a most disagreeable 
swell off" Cape San Diego, and ran before a fresh gale towards 



the Falkland Islands. Towards evening we rounded to for 
soundings, but the sea was so high and short, that a man* at 
the jib-boom-end was pitched more than a fathom under water. 
Jie held on manfully, both to the boom and the lead-line, and 
9,s he rose above the wave, blowing and dripping, hove the lead 
forward as steadily as ever.-f- My own feehngs at seeing him 
disappear may be imagined : — it was some time before we 
sounded again. This heavy though short sea seemed to be 
caused by the flood tide, coming from the southward, and 
meeting waves raised by strong north-west winds. The stream 
of tide set us a mile each hour north-eastward. 

At eight the wind and sea were too much for us to run with ; 
therefore, watching an opportunity, we rounded to :|: under 
close-reefed main-topsail, trysails, and fore-staysail. Next 
morning (27th) we bore up, though the sea was still heavy, and 
steered to pass south of the Falklands. Our observations at 
noon showed that since leaving Good Success Bay we had been 
set more than thirty miles to the north-east. This effect, whe- 
ther caused by the flood tide-stream, or by a current indepen- 
dent of the tide, would be dangerous to ships endeavouring to 
pass westward of the Falklands during bad weather, and in all 
probability caused the embayment of H.M.S. Eden, Captain 
W. F. W. Owen, when she was saved by his skill : also of a 
French storeship, the Durance ; and of several other vessels. At 
noon, on the 28th, we found that the current or stream of tide 
had set us more towards the east than to the northward, during 
the preceding twenty-four hours, while we were at the south 
side of the islands. 

At daylight on the 1st of March (having passed the pre- 
ceding night standing off" and on under easy sail), we made 
Cape Pembroke, at the eastern extremity of the Falklands. 
The weather was very cold and raw, with frequent hail-squalls, 

• Nicholas White. 

t Two men in the staysail netting were also dipped under water, at a 
second plunge, from which White escaped. 

X The barometer was below 29 inches. See Meteorological Journal in 


although in the month corresponding to September of our 
hemisphere ; and while working to windward into Berkeley 
Sound, the gusts of wind were sometimes strong enough to 
oblige us to shorten all sail. I did not then know of Port 
William — so close to us, and so easy of access. 

The aspect of the Falklands rather surprised me : instead of 
a low, level, barren country, like Patagonia, or a high woody 
region, like Tierra del Fuego, we saw ridges of rocky hills, 
about a thousand feet in height, traversing extensive tracts of 
sombre-looking moorland, unenlivened by a tree. A black, 
low, and rocky coast, on which the sutf raged violently, and 
the strong wind against which we were contending, did not 
tend to improve our first impressions of those unfortunate 
islands — scene of feud and assassination, and the cause of angry 
discussion among nations. 

In a cove (called Johnson Harbour) at the north side of 
Berkelej' Sound, was a wrecked ship, with her masts standing, 
and in other places were the remains of two more wrecks. We 
anchored near the beach on which Freycinet ran the Uranie, 
after she struck on a rock off Volunteer Point, at the entrance 
of Berkeley Sound ; and from a French boat which came 
alongside learned that the Magellan, French whaler, had been 
driven from her anchors during the tremendous storm of 
January 12-13 ; that her crew were living on shore under 
tents, having saved every thing ; that tnere were only a few 
colonists left at the almost ruined settlement of Port Louis ; 
and that the British flag had been re-hoisted on the islands by 
H.M.S. Tyne and Clio. 

VOL. II. Q, 2 



The Falkland Islands, lying between the parallels of 51° 
and 53° S., and extending from near 57° almost to 62° W., are 
in number about two hundred, but only two are of considerable 
size. Between these latter, called East, and West Falkland, 
is the channel to which our counti-yman, Strong, gave the 
name of Falkland Sound, he himself calling the adjacent 
country Hawkins' Land. 

Plausible assertions have been made by parties anxious to 
disprove the claim of Great Britain to these islands, and so few 
persons, excepting those immediately concerned, have inclina- 
tion to refer to original documents, that I may be pardoned for 
recalling to the recollection of those to whom the subject is 
still interesting, a few well-known facts, which, if fairly con- 
sidered, place the question above dispute. 

It has been asserted, that Americus Vespucius saw these 
islands in 1502,* but if the account of Americus himself is 
authentic,-[- he could not have explored farther south than the 
right bank of La Plata. In 1501-2 Americus Vespucius, then 

• II me parott qu'on en peut attribuer la premiere d^couverte au cel^bre 
Americ Vespuce, qui, dans son troisi^me voyage pour la decouverte de 
I'Amerique, en parcourut la c6te du nord au mois d'Avril 1502, 11 
ignoroit a la verite si elle appartenoit a une i\e, ou si elle faisoit partie 
du continent ; mais il est facile de conclure de la route qu'il avoit suivie, 
de la latitude a. laquelle il etoit arrive, de la description meme qu'il donne 
de cette c6te, que c'etoit celle des Malouines. J'assurerais, avec non 
moins de fondement, que Beauchesne GoUin, revenant de la nier du 
Sud en 1700, a mouille dans la partie orientale des Malouines, croyant 
^tre aux Sebaldes. — Voyage de Bougainville, 2d edit. 1772, torn. i. p. 63. 

t Letters of Americus Vespucius, in Ramusio's Collection, vol, i. 
fol. 128, 



employed by the King of Portugal, sailed 600 leagues south 
and 150 leagues west from Cape San Agostinho (lat. 8° 20' S.) 
along the coast of a country then named Terra Sancte Crucis.* 
His account of longitude may be very erroneous, but how 
could his latitude have erred thirteen degrees in this his 
southernmost voyage ? 

The south shore of the Plata is low, and appears to be 
woody, though it is not ; the depth of water off it is moderate, 
and the currents are strong — all which peculiarities have been 
remarked on the northern coasts of the Falklands; therefore 
the ' description' alluded to by De Bougainville would apply 
equally well to the right bank of the Plata. The late Mr- 
Dalrymple published an extract from a chart printed at Rome, 
in 1508, in which it is said, that ships of Portugal dis- 
covered a continuation of land as far south as fifty degrees,f 
which did not there terminate. In that chart the name Ame- 
rica is not to be found. Brazil is there called Terraij: Sancte 

If the Portuguese or any other people actually traced or 
even discovered portions of coast south of the Plata before 
1512, it appears strange that so remarkable an estuary, one 
hundred and twenty miles across, should have been overlooked ; 
especially as soundings extend two hundred miles seaward of 
its entrance : — and that the world should have no clear record of 
its having been discovered prior to the voyage of Juan de Solis, 
in 1512. Vespucius has already robbed Columbus and his 
predecessor, Cabot, of the great honour of affixing their names 
to the New World — shall he also be tacitly permitted to claim 

• The name America was not given before the year 1507. (Herrera, 
Dec. ],7, 5.) 

t The Falklands are beyond fifty-one degrees of south latitude. 

I In 1507 (the admiral Christopher Columbus being dead), Americus 
Vespucius was taken into the service of the King of Spain, with the title 
of ' Pilote mayor,' and was employed in making charts of the new disco- 
veries, wliich gave him an opportunity to affix his own name to the land of 
South America. (Herrera, Dec. 1, 7, 5.) 


even the trifling distinction of discovering the Falklands, when 
it is evident that he could not have seen them ? * 

On the 14th of August 1592, John Davis, vs^ho sailed with 
Cavendish on his second voyage, but separated from him in May 
1592, discovered the islands now called Falkland. In Mr. John 
Jane''s relation of Davis's voyage (Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 846), 
there is the following simple, but distinct account of this dis- 
covery : " Aug. 14, 1792. We were driven in among certain 
isles, never before discovered by any known relation, lying 
fifty leagues or better from the shore, east and northerly from 
the Strait" (of Magalhaens). 

At this time Davis was striving to enter the Strait of Magal- 
hasns, but had been long at sea, and driven far by tempests. 
His bearing is correct, though the distance (by estimation 
only) is too small. 

In 1683-4, Dampier and Cowley saw three islands in lat. 51° 
to 51° 20' S., wliich they (correctly) supposed to be those seen 
and named by Sebald de Weert. However, the editor of Cow- 
ley's narrative, one William Hack, published a diflPerent lati- 
tude for the land they saw, and called it Pepys Island, in com- 
pliment to the then Secretary of the Admiralty, intending that 
it should be supposed a new discovery. The false latitude given 
by Hack was 47° S. : in his drawing of the island he did not 
omit the insertion of an Admiralty Bay and a Secretary Point. 

Hawkins sailed along the northern shores of these islands in 
1594, and he, ignorant of Davis's discovery, named them Haw- 
kins's Maiden Land. His account appearing first, and promi- 
nently, before the public, procured for them the name by which 
they were known until Strong, in 1690, sailed through and 
anchored in the channel which he named Falkland Sound. 
The Welfare's journal, written by Strong, is in the British 
Museum, together with Observations made during a South 
Sea Voyage, written by Richard Simson, who sailed in the 

• Could the constructor of the chart, published at Rome in 1508, have 
been misinformed, owing to a mistake of 5 for 3 (50 for 30)? Such errors 
occur frequently in modern compilations. 


same ship ; but a few sentences in each are so relevant to the 
present subject, that I shall quote them verbatim : — " 1690. 
Monday 27th January. We saw the land ; when within three 
or four leagues, we had thirty-six fathoms. It is a large land, 
and lieth east and west nearest. There are several quays that lie 
among the shore. We sent our boat to one, and she brought on 
board abundance of penguins, and other fowls, and seals. We 
steered along shore E. by N., and at eight at night we saw the 
land run eastward as far as we could discern. Lat. 51° 3' S. 

" Tuesday 28th. This morning at four o'clock we saw a 
rock that lieth from the main island four or five leagues. It 
maketh like a sail.* At six, we stood into a sound that lies 
about twenty leagues from the westernmost land we had seen. 
The sound lieth south and north nearest. There is twenty- 
four fathoms depth at the entrance, which is four leagues 
wide. We came to an anchor six or seven leagues within, in 
fourteen fathoms water. Here are many good harbours. We 
found fresh water in plenty, and killed abundance of geese and 
ducks. As for wood, there is none. 

" On the 31st we weighed from this harbour, with the wind at 
W.S.W. We sent our long-boat a-head of the ship, to sound 
before us. At eight o'clock in the evening, we anchored in nine 
fathoms. The next morning we weighed, and sent our boat 
before us. At ten, we were clear out of the sound. At twelve, 
we set the west cape bearing N.N.E., which we named Cape 
Farewell. This sound, Falkland Sound as I named it, is about 
seventeen leagues long ; the first entrance lies S. by E., and 
afterwards S. by W." 

How it happened that the name Falkland, originally given 
to the sound alone, obliterated Hawkins, and has never yielded 
to Davis, is now a matter of very trifling importance. 

I may be permitted to remark particularly, that Hawkins 
and Strong not only saw both East and West Falkland, but 
that in 1690 Strong anchored repeatedly between them, and 
landed : and I do so, because stress has been laid upon the fact 

• This rock was seen by Hawkins, and named by him ' White Con- 
duit.' Now it is called Eddystone. 


of Beauchesne Gouin having anchored in 1700 on their eastern 

In the year 1600, the islands now called Jasons, Salvages, 
or Sebaldines, at the north-west extremity of the Falklands, 
were seen and named by Sebald de Weert ; and during the 
next two centuries many other navigators, sailing to or from 
the Pacific, saw the Falklands ; but it does not appear that any 
further landing was effected, or even that any vessel anchored 
there, after Beauchesne, except the Saint Louis, of St. Malo, 
until M. de Bougainville landed to form his settlement, in 
February 1764. 

Several ships of St. Malo passed near the Eastern Falklands 
between the years 1706 and 1714, from whose accounts M. 
Frezier compiled his chart, published in 1717 ; and in com- 
pliment to the owners of one of them (the Saint Louis), her 
commander, M. Fouquet, named the cluster of islets near 
which he anchored, the Anican Isles. 

In consequence of the visits of these ships of St. Malo, the 
French named the islands Les Malouines ; but this was not 
till after 1716, when Frezier compiled the chart in which he 
called them ' Isles Nouvelles,' although in his own narrative 
(p. 512, Amsterdam edition, 1717), he says, " Ces isles sont 
sans doute les memes que celles que le Chevalier Richard 
Hawkins d^couvrit en 1593." 

The Spaniards adopted the French name, slightly altered, 
by changing Malouines into Malvinas: even now the term 
' Maloon,' a corruption of Malouine, * is sometimes used by 
English or Americans instead of island, in writing as well as 
in speaking. 

During the early part of the last century, France maintained 
a lucrative commerce with Chile and Peru, by way of Cape 
Horn, and the advantages which might be derived from a port 
of refuge and supply at the eastern extremity of the Falklands 
did not escape her active discernment. 

De Bougainville says, " Cependant leur position heureuse 

* " Fortunately, it is an this maloon,,or island, that bullocks and 
horses are found running wild." — (Weddell, p. 97.) 


pour servir de relache aux vaisseaux qui vont dans la mer du 
sud, et d'echelle pour la decouverte des terres Australes, avoit 
frappe les navigateurs de toutes les nations. Au commence- 
ment de Tannee 1763, la cour de France resolut de former un 
^tablissement dans ces iles. Jeproposai au ministere de le com- 
raencer a mes frais, et seconde par MM. de Nerville et d'Ar- 
boulin, Tun mon cousin-germain et Tautre mon oncle, je fis 
sur le champ construire et armer a Saint Malo, par les soins de 
M. Duclos Guyot, aujourd'hui mon second, TAigle de vingt 
canons, et le Sphinx de douze, que je munis de tout ce qui 
etoit propre pour une pareille expedition. J'embarquai plusieurs 
families Acadiennes, espece d'hommes laborieuse, intelligente, 
et qui doit etre chere a la France par Tinviolable attachement 
que lui ont prouve ces honnetes et infortunes citoyens. 

" A' Monte Video nous primes beaucoup de chevaux, et de 
betes a come, — nous atterrames sur les iles Sebaldes le 31 
Janvier 1764. 

" La meme illusion qui avoit fait croire a Hawkins, a 
Woodes Rogers, et aux autres, que ces iles etoient couvertes de 
bois, agit aussi sur mes compagnons de voyage, et sur moi. 
Nous vimes avec surprise, en debarquant, que ce que nous 
avions pris pour du bois en cinglant le long de la cote, n'etoit 
autre chose que des touffes de jonc fort elevees et fort rappro- 
chees les unes des autres. Leur pied, en se dessechant reqoit 
la couleur d'herbe morte jusqu^a une toise environ de hauteur ; 
et de la sort une touffe de joncs* d'un beau verd qui couronne 
ce pied ; de sorte que, dans Teloignement, les tiges reunies 
presentent Taspect d'un bois de mediocre hauteur. Ces joncs 
ne croissent qu'au bord de la mer, et sur les petites iles ; les 
montagnes de la grande terre sont, dans quelques endroits, 
couvertes entierement de bruyeres, qu'on prend aisement de 
loin pour du taillis."— (Voyage autour du Monde, 1766-69, 
seconde edition, 1772, torn. i. p. 66-69.) 

On the 17th of March De Bougainville decided to place his 

* Now called Tussac by the sealers and colonists. 


establishment on the spot where the present settlement stands, 
and forthwith disembarked to commence the laborious under- 
taking of founding a colony. 

In the year 1764, a squadron was sent to the South Seas by 
George Til., in whose instructions, dated June 17th, 1764, 
it is said, " And whereas his Majesty's islands, called Pepys 
Island and Falkland Islands, lying within the said track," 
(the track between the Cape of Good Hope and the Strait of 
Magalhaens), " notwithstanding their having been first disco- 
vered and visited by British navigators, have never yet been 
so sufficiently surveyed, as that an accurate judgment may be 
formed of their coasts and product, his Majesty, taking the 
premises into consideration, and conceiving no junction so pro- 
per for enterprises of this nature as a time of profound peace, 
which his kingdoms at present happily enjoy, has thought fit 
that it should now be undertaken." 

On the 23d January 1765, Commodore Byron went on 
shore at these islands, with the captains and principal officers 
of his squadron, " when the Union Jack being erected on a 
hio-h staff, and spread, the commodore took possession of the 
harbour and all the neighbouring islands for his Majesty King 
George III., his heirs, and successors, by the name of Falkland 
Islands. When the colours were spread, a salute was fired from 
the ship." 

In consequence of Byron's favourable report, Captain Mac- 
bride was sent out in H.M.S. Jason to begin their colonization. 
He arrived in January 1766. 

Spain, hearing of the French settlement, immediately laid 
claim to the islands, as forming a part of her American posses- 
sions ; and France, influenced by various considerations, agreed 
to deliver up to Spain her newly-formed colony, upon condi- 
tion that the projectors and colonists should be indemnified for 
their losses : an agreement honourably fulfilled by Spain. 

On the 1st of April 1767, De Bougainville gave up posses- 
sion to the Spanish officer appointed to take charge ; the stan- 
dard of Spain was hoisted, and royal salutes fired by the ves- 


sels present. Some of the French colonists remained, but the 
greater part preferred returning to France, and passages were 
given to them on board Spanish ships. 

In 1770, a Spanish armament attacked the British colony 
at Port Egmont, and obliged its small garrison to surrender 
to an overpowering force, and quit the place. England, indig- 
nant at the insult, armed for war, and demanded satisfaction 
from Spain for the injury inflicted. At first Spain argued and 
temporized ; but finding that Great Britain continued firm, 
and that the English people were even more disposed for action 
than their Government, she relinquished her views — disavowed 
the act of her officer — and restored Port Egmont. England 
was satisfied — or rather, the court party professed to be satis- 
fied ; but the opposers of government angrily declared that 
Spain had not done enough ; and that, though compelled to 
make restitution, her insult Avas unatoned for. 

In 1774, finding the establisliment at the Falklands expen- 
sive, and almost useless,* England quietly withdrew it ; but 
the marks and signals of possession and property were left 
upon the islands, and when the governor departed, the British 
flag remained flying, and various formalities were observed, 
intended to indicate the right of possession, as well as to show 
that the occupation of them might be resumed. 

The reports made by officers employed at Port Egmont 
were of such a discouraging tendency, that no person at that 
time entertained the least wish to have any further concern 
with the islands — and for years they were unnoticed — though 
not forgotten by England. Spain, however, jealous of in- 
terference with her colonial possessions, and regarding the 
Falklands as a vantage-ground, from which those in the south 
might be suddenly or secretly invaded, maintained a small 
garrison at the eastern extremity of the Archipelago, where 
her ships occasionally touched, and from time to time recon- 
noitred the adjacent ports, in order to ascertain whether any 
visitors were there. At what precise time the Spaniards with- 

* The fact was, it was injudiciously situated, and therefore seldom 
visited, except by a few fishermen. 



drew this small garrison, and left the Falkland archipelago 
uninhabited by man, I am not certain ; but it must have 
been early in this century, because from 1810 to 18^0 there 
was no person upon those islands who claimed even a shadow 
of authority over any of them. 

In 1820, a ship of war was sent from Buenos Ay res to Port 
Louis ; her captain, Jewitt, hoisted the Argentine flag, and 
saluted it with twenty-one guns ; notifying, at the same time, 
to the sealing and whaling vessels present, that he was " com- 
missioned by the Supreme Government of the United Provinces 
of South America to take possession of these islands in the 
name of the country to which they naturally appertain." — 
(Weddell, p. 103.) This act of the Buenos Ayrean Govern- 
ment was scarcely known in Europe for many years ; and not 
until 1829 was it noticed formally by Great Britain. 

After reading this short statement of facts, one may pause 
to consider what nation is at this moment the legitimate owner 
of the Falklands. Do the discovery, prior occupation, and 
settlement of new and uninhabited countries give a right to 
possession ? If so, Great Britain is the legal owner of those 
islands. Davis first discovered them ; Hawkins first named 
them ; Strong first landed on them ; and (excepting the 
French), Byron first took formal possession of them ; and 
(again excepting the French), Macbride first colonized them. 
Respecting the French claim, depending only upon first settle- 
ment, not discovering, naming, or landing ; whatever validity 
any one may be disposed to allow it, that value must be 
destroyed, when it is remembered that Spain asserted her 
superior claim, and that France actually admitted it, resigning 
for ever her pretensions to those islands. Whatever France 
might have been induced to do for political reasons, of which 
the most apparent now is the continuance of the trade she then 
carried on with Chile and Peru, England never admitted 
that the Spanisli claim was valid : and France having with- 
drawn, the question is solely between Spain and Great Britain. 
Spaniards neither discovered, landed upon, nor settled in the 
Falklands before Englishmen ; and their only claim rests upon 



the unstable foundation of a papal bull, by virtue of which 
Spain might just as well claim Otaheite, the Sandwich Islands, 
or New Zealand. 

As to the pretensions of Buenos Ayres, I shall only re- 
mark, that in a paper transmitted by her government to Mr. 
Bayhes, charge-d'afTaires of the United States of North Ame- 
rica, on the 14th August 1832, the advocate of her claims 
asserts, that " it is a political absurdity to pretend that a 
colony which emancipates itself, inherits the other territories 
which the metropolis may possess. If that singular doctrine 
were to be found in the code of nations, the Low Countries, 
for example, on their independence being acknowledged, in 
1648, would have succeeded to Spain in her rights to America ; 
and in the same manner, the United States would have appro- 
priated to themselves the British possessions in the East-Indies, 
Inheritance, indeed ! the United States did not inherit the 
rights of England in Newfoundland, notwithstanding its con- 
tigviity ; and are they to inherit those which she may have to 
the Malvinas, at the southern extremity of the continent, and 
in the opposite hemisphere."'"'* 

The writer of the preceding sentences, in his haste to attack 
the United States of America for an assertion made by one of 
their journalists, to the effect that the United States inherited 
from Great Britain a claim to fish around the Falklands, must 
have overlooked the simple fact, that his arguments were even 
more applicable to Buenos Ayres than they were to the United 
States of North America. 

When Captain Jewitt arrived at the Falklands, he found 
more than thirty sail of vessels engaged there in the seal fishery, 
besides others which were recruiting the health of their crews 
after whaling or sealing voyages in the antarctic regions. By 
the crews of these ships numbers of cattle and pigs were killed, 
as well as horses, the wild descendants of those taken there 
by Bougainville and his successors. 

* Papers relative to the origin and present state of the questions pend- 
ing with the United States of America on the subject of the Malvinas 
(Falkland Islands). Translated and printed at Buenos Ayres in 1832. 


In 1823, the Buenos Ayrean Government took another step, 
in the appointment of a ' comandante de las Malvinas ;' and in 
the same year, Lewis Vernet, by birth a German, in concert 
with his friends at Buenos Ayres, " solicited and obtained from 
the Government the use of the fishery and of the cattle on the 
Eastern Malvina, and likewise tracts of land thereon, in order 
to provide for the subsistence of the settlement.* This under- 
taking did not prosper ; but the next year Mr. Vernet pre- 
pared a second expedition, in which he himself sailed. His 
own words (translated) are : + " After many sacrifices, I was 
enabled to surmount great obstables ; but still that which we 
expected to effect in one year was not realized before the expi- 
ration of five. My partners lost all hope, and sold me their 
shares. I bought successively three vessels, and lost them; 
I chartered five, one of which was lost. Each blow produced 
dismay in the colonists, who several times resolved to leave 
that ungrateful region, but were restrained by their affection 
for me, which I had known how to win, and by the example 
of constancy and patience which my family and myself held 
out to them." 

In 1828, the Government of Buenos Ayres granted to Mr. 
Vernet (with certain exceptions) the right of property in the 
Falkland Islands — and in Staten Land ! " It also conceded 
to the colony exemption from taxation for twenty years, and 
for the same period the exclusive right to the fishery in all the 
Malvinas, and on the coast of the continent to the southward 
of the Rio Negro, under the condition that within three years 
I (Vernet) should have established the colony." I 

About this time merchant-vessels of all nations visited the 
Falkland Islands, both in their outward voyage and when 
returning from the Pacific; but advantageous as their visits 
were, those of numerous sealers had a very different effect : for, 
instead of frequenting the settlement, their crews killed the 
seal indiscriminately at all seasons, and slaughtered great 
numbers of wild cattle. " For this reason," says Vernet, " I 

* See note in preceding page. t Idem. J Idem. 


requested the Government to furnish me with a vessel of war, 
to enable me to cause the rights of the colony to be respected. 
The Government was aware of the necessity of the measure ; 
but not being then able to place a vessel at my disposal, it 
resolved to invest me with a public and official character, and 
for that purpose issued the two decrees of the 10th of June : 
the one re-establishing the governorship of the Malvinas and 
Tierra del Fuego; and the other nominating me to fulfil that 

In 1829, Vernet warned off some North American sealers ; 
and in 1831, upon their repeating the sealing excursion of 
which he had complained, he detained them by force. This 
act, and various circumstances arising out of it, drew upon him 
and his unfortunate colony the hasty indignation of Captain 
Silas Duncan, of the United States corvette Lexington, who, 
on his own responsibility, without waiting to communicate with 
his Government, sailed from the Plata to the Falkland Islands, 
surprised, assaulted, and made prisoners of many unoffending 
people, and unwarrantably destroyed both property and build- 
ings. Mr. Brisbane and several others were put into confine- 
ment, and carried away, on board the Lexington, to Buenos 
Ayres, where they were delivered up to the Buenos Ayrean 
Government, in February 1832. The United States supported 
their officer, and immediately despatched a charge-d'affaires to 
Buenos Ayres, with instructions to demand compensation for 
the injury done to North American trade, and full reparation 
to all North American citizens for personal wrongs. 

While the L^nited States and Buenos Ayres were discussing 
the questions at issue. Great Britain, following up the solemn 
warnings she had given Buenos Ayres (especially in the pro- 
test addressed to that Government by Mr. Parish, in November 
1829), issued orders to her Commander-in-chief on the South 
American station, to send a vessel of war to re-hoist the British 
flag upon the Falkland Islands ; to assert her right of sove- 
i-eignty, and to cause every thing belonging to the Buenos 
Ayrean Government to be embarked and sent away. 

* See note, pag-e 2.36. 


On the 2d of January 1833, H.M.S. Clio anchored in Berke- 
ley Sound, to carry these orders into effect ; H.M.S. Tyne, 
about the same time, anchoring in Port Egmont. In each 
place the British colours were hoisted and saluted : the small 
Buenos Ayrean garrison at Port Louis quietly withdrew, and 
sailed for the Plata in an armed schooner, belonging to Buenos 
Ayres : and from that time those unhappy islands have been 
more ostensibly British, though but little has yet been done 
to draw forth the resources, and demonstrate the advantages 
which they unquestionably possess. When the Tyne and Clio 
sailed, after a very short stay at the islands, no authority was 
left there, but the colours were entrusted to an Irishman, who 
had been Mr. Vernet's storekeeper.* 

In 1834, a lieutenant in the navy, with a boat's crew, 
was sent to reside at Port Louis, and since that time various 
small ships of war have succeeded each other in visiting and 
exploring the numerous islands and harbours of that archipe- 

Those who may wish for more historical information on this 
subject — for further details of former negociations between 
Spain and England, or of the late discussions between North 
Amei'ica and Buenos Ayres — should refer to Dr. Johnson's 
" Thoughts respecting the Falkland Islands'" (Johnson's 
Works, vol. viii. p. 96, Murphy's Edition, 1816) ; to Junius's 
42d Letter ; and to papers published at Buenos Ayres in 1832; 
in addition to general history. 

* Not long before the Clio arrived, there had been a mutiny in the gar- 
rison, and the Buenos Ayrean commanding officer had been barbarously 
murdered. In the early part of 1834, Mr. Brisbane fell a victim to 
treachery. These fatal occurrences will be mentioned again in the course 
of my narrative. 



First Appearance — Tides — Currents — Winds — Lightning- — Sea 

Tempei'ature — Rain — Health — Dangers — Cautions — View — Settle- 
ment — Animals — Foxes — Varieties — Seal — Whales — Fish and Fishery 
— Birds — Brushwood — Peat — Pasture — Potash — Orehilla — Grazing — 
Corn — Fruit — Vegetables — Trees — Plants — Land— Situation of prin- 
cipal Settlement — Prospective advantages ■ — Suggestions — Vernet's 
Establishment — Reflections. 

In the appearance of the Falkland Islands, there is very 
little either remarkable or interesting. About the greater part 
of the archipelago, barren hills, sloping towards low and 
broken ground, or rocky surf-beat shores, are the only objects 
which meet the eye. On the West Falkland, and some small 
islands near it, there are high precipitous cliffs in a few 
parts exposed to the western seas ; but other places, and 
especially the southern portions of East Falkland, are so low 
that they cannot be seen from the deck of a vessel five miles 
distant. The average height of the western island is greater 
than that of the eastern, although the highest hills seem to be 
in the latter, where they rise to about thirteen hundred feet 
above the sea level. 

Around the islands, especially toward the south-eastern and 
north-western extremes, there are numerous islets and rocks, 
whose distance from shores, where tides run strongly and winds 
are violent as well as sudden, makes them exceedingly dange- 
rous ; more particularly near the north-west extremity of the 
group : and as seamen require information on these matters 
before entering a port, I will notice the tides, winds, and cli- 
mate previous to other subjects. 

The tides differ much as to strength and direction in dif- 
ferent parts of the archipelago, but the times of syzigial high 
water only vary from five to eight o'clock ; and the rise of tide 
is almost similar every where, about four feet at neap, and eight 



feet at spring tides. The principal swell of the ocean, which 
causes the tidal streams about these islands, comes from the 
south-east. Scarcely any stream is perceptible on the south-east 
coast of East Falkland ; but along the north, south, and west 
shores it increases in strength, until among the Jason Islands it 
runs six miles an hour, causing heavy and dangerous races. Off 
Berkeley Sound, across the entrance, and near Cape Carysfort, 
the tide runs about two knots, at its greatest strength ; and 
thence westward it increases gradually. Into Falkland Sound 
the tide flows from both openings, and meets near the Swan 
Islands ; shewing, I apprehend, that the principal wave or 
swell impinges upon the coast considerably eastward of south. 

The tidal currents are stronger along the northern shores of 
the archipelago than they are along the south coasts ; and the 
stream of flood is stronger than the ebb. At Port William, the 
easternmost harbour, the time of high water at full moon is 
five ; and thence westward, the times increase gradually to 
half-past eight, at New Island, which is nearly the western- 
most of the group. 

Generally speaking, the sea is much deeper near the south- 
ern and western shores than it is near those of the north ; and 
to those local differences I attribute the varying velocity of the 
minor tide streams. 

Besides these movements of the surrounding waters, there is 
a current setting past the islands from south-west to north- 
east : a current which continually brings drift wood to their 
southern coasts, and has brought Fuegian canoes. On all parts 
of the southern shores that are open to the south-west, the 
beaches or rocks are covered with trees, which have drifted from 
Staten Land or Tierra del Fuego. Great quantities of this 
driftwood may be found between Cape Orford and Cape Mere- 
dith ; upon the Arch, Speedwell, George, and Barren Islands : 
indeed, there are few places between Cape Orford and Choi- 
seul Bay where a vessel may not find a good supply of fuel. On 
Long Island, and in the bay behind the Sea-Lion Islands, 
portions of Fuegian canoes have often been found ; one con- 
sisted of an entire side (pieces of bark sewed together), which 


could not have been made many years. At sea, when noilli- 
eastward of the Falklands, great quantities of drift kelp* are 
seen, besides water-worn trunks and branches of trees, near 
which there ai-e generally fish, and numbers of birds. These 
sure indications of a current from the south-west have been met 
with upwards of two hundred miles to the northward of Berke- 
ley Sound. There is not, however, reason to think that this 
current ever runs more than two knots an hour, under any cir- 
cumstances, and in all probability its usual set is even less than 
one knot. 

Wind is the principal evil at the Falklands : a region moi-e 
exposed to storms, both in summer and winter, it would be 
difficult to mention. 

The winds are variable ; seldom at rest, while the sun is 
above the horizon, and very violent at times ; during the summer 
a calm day is an extraordinary event. Generally speaking, the 
nights are less windy than the days, but neither by night nor by 
day, nor at any season of the year, are these islands exempt 
from sudden and very severe squalls ; or from gales which blow 
heavily, though they do not usually last many hours. 

It has been stated by Bougainville and others that in sum- 
mer the wind generally freshens as the sun rises, and dies away 
about sunset: also, that the nights are clear and starlight. 
The information I have received, with what I have myself wit- 
nessed, induces me to agree to the first of these statements in 
its most general sense, and to a certain degree I can admit the 
second ; but, at the same time, it is true that there are many 
cloudy and very many windy nights in the course of each year, 
I might almost say month. Tlie Magellan was driven from 
her anchors, though close to a weather shore in the narrowest 
part of Berkeley Sound, and totally wrecked in Johnson Har- 
bour about midnight of the 12th of Januaryf 1833. 

The prevalent direction of the wind is westerly. Gales, in 
general, commence in the north-west, and draw or fly round 
to the south-west ; and it may be remarked, that when rain 

• Sea-weed detached from the rocks and drifting' with the current, 
t The month which, in that hemisphere, corresponds to July in ours. 

R 2 



accompanies a north-west wind it soon shifts into the south- 
west quarter, and blows hard. 

Northerly winds bring cloudy weather ; and when very light, 
tliey are often accompanied by a thick fog : it is also worth 
notice that they almost always occur about the full and change 
of the moon. 

North-east and northerly winds bring gloomy overcast 
weather, with much rain ; sometimes they blow hard and hang 
in the N.N.E., but it is more common for them to draw round 
to the westward. South-easterly winds also bring much rain, 
they are not frequent, but they blow hard, and as the gale 
increases it hauls southward. During winter the winds are 
chiefly from the north-west, and in summer they are more 
frequently south-west. Though fogs occur with light easterly 
or northerly winds, they do not often last through the day. 

Gales of wind, as well as squalls, are more sudden, and blow 
more furiously from the southern quarter, between south-west 
and south-east, than from other directions. 

Wind from the east is rarely lasting, or strong ; it generally 
brings fine weather, and may be expected in April, May, June, 
and July, rather than at other times, but intervals of fine 
weather (short indeed), with light breezes from E.S.E. to 
E.N.E., occur occasionally throughout the year. 

Neither liffhtnino- nor thunder are at all common, but when 
the former occurs easterly wind is expected to follow. If 
liffhtninff should be seen in the south-east while the barometer 
is low,* a hard gale from that quarter may be expected. South- 
east and southerly gales last longer than those from the west- 
ward, and they throw a very heavy sea upon the southern 
shores. In the winter there is not, generally, so much wind as 
in the summer, and in the former season the weather, though 
colder, is more settled, and considerably drier. 

• A seaman may naturally ask here, and at other passages where refe- 
rence is made to the barometer, " What is considered low for that place ?" 
and as a reply may be obtained more satisfactorily by consulting the 
Meteorological Journal, in the appendix, than by receiving an answer 
in figures (barometers and direction of wind varying so much), I will 
beg: him to look at that Journal. 


In different years seasons vary so much, that those who have 
been longest about the islands hardly venture to predict what 
weather will be found during any particular month. All they 
say is, that January, February, and March, though warmest, 
are the windiest months, and that May, June, and July, though 
cold, are much less stormy.* 

I must here add one word in favour of the barometer, or 
sympiesometer. Every material change in the weather is fore- 
told by these invaluable instruments, if their movements are 
tolerably understood by those who consult them, and if tliey 
are frequently observed. Mr. Low said to me, " The baro- 
meter is worth any thing in these countries " (alluding to 
Tierra del Fuego, as well as the Falklands) ; " some say they 
dislike it because it is always so low, and foretelling bad 
weather ; but how often do we have any other ?" They must, 
somehow, think the barometer ominous, and overlook the use of 
the omen. 

The temperature may be considered equable ; it is never 
hot, neither is it ever very cold ; but the average is low, and 
in consequence of frequent rain and wind, a really moderate 
degree of cold is much more noticed than would probably be 
the case if the weather were dry and serene. 

Since 1825 Falirenheit*'s thermometer has only once been 
observed so low as 22° in the shade, at mid-day, and it has been 
but once above 80° in the shade. Its ordinary range is between 
30° and 50° in the winter, and from 40° to 65° in the summer. 
Ice has not been known to exceed an inch in thickness ; snow 
seldom lies upon the low lands, or at any period exceeds two 
inches in depth. Although rain is so frequent, it does not 
continue falling for any considerable time ; and as evaporation 
is rapid, in consequence of so much wind, there are no un- 
wholesome exhalations ; indeed, the climate is exceedingly 
healthy, and no disease whatever has been hitherto contracted, 
in consequence of its influence, excepting ordinary colds and 
coughs, or rheumatic affections, brought on by vmusual expo- 
Mr. Low scarcely ever found two succeeding' years alike, as to wind 
and weather, during the corresponding seasons. 



sure to weather. It is said by those who have had the most 
experience there, that the climate of West Falkland is milder 
than that of the Eastern large island. Probably the west winds 
are chilled in passing over the heights, and upon reaching 
Port Louis are several degrees colder than when they first 
strike upon the western islands. In Tierra del Fuego, and 
many other places, the case is similar, the western regions 
having a milder climate than is found about the central or 
eastern districts. Excellent harbours, easy of access, affording 
good shelter, with the very best holding ground, abound among 
tliese islands, and, with due care, offer ample protection from 
the frequent gales. 

In approaching the land, and especially while entering a 
harbour, a careful look-out should be kept for ' fixed kelp,' 
the seaweed growing on every rock in those places, which is 
covered by the sea, and not very far beneath its surface. Lying 
upon the water, the upper leaves and stalks show, almost as 
well as a buoy, where there is a possibility of hidden danger. 
Long stems, with leaves, lying regularly along the surface of 
the sea, are generally attached to rocky places, or else to 
large stones. Occasionally a few straggling stalks of kelp are 
seen in deep water, even in thirty fathoms : many of which 
are attached to stones, and so firmly, that their long stems 
will sometimes weigh the stone adhering to their roots. Such 
scattered plants as these need not be minded by a ship ; but in 
passing to windward of patches or beds of kelp, or rather in 
passing on that side from which the stems stream away with 
the current, care should be taken to give the place a wide 
berthi, because the only part which shows, when the tide is 
strong, lies on one side of, not over the rocks. Where the 
stream of tide is very strong this kelp is quite 'run under,' or 
kept down out of sight, and can no longer be depended on as a 
warning. When a clear spot is seen in the middle of a thick 
patch of fixed kelp, one may expect to find there the least 

Drift kelp, or that which is floating on the surface of the 
sea, unattached to any rock or stone, of course need not be 


avoided ; it may be known at a glance, by the irregular hud- 
dled look which it has. OfF the south-east shores of the Falk- 
lands there are several rocky shallows, on which the sea breaks 
heavily during south-east gales, though not at other times : all 
those shallows are marked by kelp, and in one place, thus 
indicated, not more suspicious in appearance than others, a 
rock was found, almost 'awash' at low Avater. 

Many wrecks have occurred, even on the land-locked shores 
of harbours themselves, and in 1833-4, some of their remains 
served as a warning to strangers to moor their ships securely : 
but with good ground tackle, properly disposed, and the usual 
precautions, a vessel will lie in absolute safety, as the holding- 
ground is excellent : indeed, in many places so tenacious, that 
it is exceedingly difficult to weigh an anchor which has been 
some time down. Particular directions for making the land, 
approaching and entering harbours, and taking advantageous 
berths, will be found in another place : generally speaking, 
the local pilotage is very simple. 

The country is remarkably easy of access to persons on foot; 
but half-concealed rivulets and numerous bogs, oblige a 
mounted traveller to be very cautious. There are no trees any 
where, but a small bush is plentiful in many vallies. Scarcely 
any view can be more dismal than that from the heights : moor- 
land and black bog extend as far as eye can discern, intersected 
by innumerable streams, and pools of yellowish brown water. 
But this appearance is deceptive ; much of what seems to be a 
barren moor, is solid sandy clay soil, covered by a thin layer 
of vegetable mould, on which grow shrubby bushes and a' 
coarse grass, affording ample nourishment to cattle ; besides 
which, one does not see into many of the vallies where there 
is good soil and pasture. Some tracts of land, especially those 
at the south of East Falkland, differ in character, being low, 
level, and abundantly productive of excellent herbage. 

Mr. Darwin's volume will doubtless afford information as to 
the aeoloffical formation of the Eastern Falkland. He did not 
visit the western island, but obtained many notices of it from 


those who were there. The more elevated parts of East Falk- 
land are quartz rock ; clay-slate prevails in the intermediate 
districts. Sandstone, in which are beautifully perfect impres- 
sions of shells, occurs in beds within the slate formation : and 
upon the slate is a layer of clay, fit for making bricks. Near 
the surface, where this clay is of a lighter quality, and mixed 
with vegetable remains, it is good soil, fit for cultivation. In 
some places, a great extent of clay is covered by a layer of 
very solid peat, varying in depth from two to ten feet. The 
solidity of this peat is surprising ; it burns well, and is an 
excellent substitute for other fuel. To the clay and to the 
solid peat may be attributed the numerous bogs and pools of 
water, rather than to the total amount of rain. Is the peat 
now growing, or was the whole mass formed ages ago ? 

The settlement, now consisting only of a few huts, some cot- 
tages, and a ruinous house or two, occupies the place originally 
selected by Bougainville, close to Port Louis, at the head of 
Berkeley Sound. Standing in an exposed situation, scattered 
over half a mile of rising ground, without a tree or even a 
shrub near it, the unfortunate village has a bleak and desolate 
appearance, ominous of its sad history. Previous, however, to 
entering upon the affairs of the settlement, I will continue my 
sketch of the islands and their present produce, independent 
of the settlers now there. 

By the French, and afterwards by the Spanish colonists, a 
number of black cattle, horses, pigs, and rabbits, were turned 
loose upon East Falkland ; and, by considerate persons, en- 
gaged in whale or seal-fishery, both goats and pigs have been 
left upon smaller islands near West Falkland. These animals 
have multiplied exceedingly; and, although they have been 
killed indiscriminately by the crews of vessels, as well as by 
the settlers, there are still many thousand head of cattle, and 
some thousand horses, besides droves of pigs, perfectly wild, 
upon the eastern large island : w^hile upon Carcass Island, 
Saunders Island, and others, there are numbers of goats and 
pigs. In 18S4, the smallest estimate exceeded twelve thou- 




Publiahed.'bjr Hffmy- CoIbam.Oxeul&rlbaDcni^ SoccXilS^C' 


sand cattle, and four thousand horses; but there were no 
means of ascertaining their number, except by comparing the 
accounts of the gavicho colonists, who were accustomed to 
pursue them, not only for ordinary food or for their hides, but 
even for their tongues alone, not taking the trouble to carry 
off more of the animal so wantonly slaughtered.* The wild 
cattle are very large and very fat, and the bulls are really for- 
midable animals, perhaps among the largest and most savage 
of their race. At Buenos Ayres, the ordinary weight of a 
bull's hide is less than fifty pounds, but the weight of such 
hides in the East Falkland has exceeded eighty pounds. The 
horses look well while galloping about wild, but the gauchos 
say they are not of a good breed, and will not bear the fatigue 
of an ordinary day's work, such as a horse at Buenos Ayres 
will go through without difficulty. Perhaps their ' softness,' as 
it is there called, may be owing to the food they get, as well 
as to the breed. The wild pigs on East Falkland are of along- 
legged, ugly kind ; but some of those on Saunders Island and 
other places about West Falkland are derived from short- 
legged Chinese pigs. The only quadruped apparently indige- 
nous is a large fox, and as about this animal there has been 
much discussion among naturalists, and the specimens now in the 
British Museum were deposited there by me, I am induced to 
make a few remarks upon it. 

* " The settlers, when they abandoned the eastern island, left behind 
them several horses and horned cattle, which have increased so much, 
that, on going a few miles into the country, droves of both animals may 
be seen, I have taken several of the bullocks by shooting them. They 
sire generally ferocious, and will attack a single person; and thus, those 
who hunt them are enabled to get within pistol-shot of them by the fol- 
lowing stratagem. Four or five men advance in a line upon the animal, 
and, by appearing only as one person, it stands ready to attack, till within 
one hundred yards, when the hunters spread themselves, and fire, endea- 
vouring to shoot the bullock either in the head or in the fore-shoulder. 
The horses will also attack a single person, and their mode of doing so 
is by forming a circle round him, and prancing upon him ; but by means 
of a musquet they may be readily dispersed." — Weddell's Voyage, pp. 
102, 103. 


It has been said, that there are two varieties of this ' wolf- 
fox,' as it has been called,* one being rather the smaller, and of 
a redder brown ; but the fact is, that no other difference exists 
between the two apparent varieties, and as the darker coloured 
larger animal is found on the East Falkland, while the other 
is confined to the western island, the darker colour and rather 
thicker furry coat may be attributed to the influence of a some- 
what colder climate. The fox of West Falkland approaches 
nearer the large fox of Patagonia, both in colour and size, 
than its companion of East Falkland does; but allowing that 
there is one shade of difference between the foxes of East 
and West Falkland, there are but two, or at most three shades 
between the animal of West Falkland and the large fox of 
Port Famine. In Strong's voyage (1690), Simson describes 
these foxes as being twice as large as an Englisli fox, but he 
does not say upon which island.-f- 

• " Le loup-renard, ainsi nomine parce qu'il se creuse un terrier, et que 
sa queue est plus longue et plus fournie de poil que celle du loup, 
habite dans les dunes sur le bord de la mer. II suit le gibier et se fait 
des routes avec intelligence, toujours par le plus court cliemin d'une bale 
a I'autre ; a notre premiere descente a terre, nous ne doutames point que 
ce ne fussent des sentiers d'habitans. II y a apparence que cet animal 
je(ine une partie de I'annee, tant il est maigre et rare. II est de lataille 
d'un chien ordinaire dont il a aussi I'aboiement, mais foible. Comment 
a-t-il ete transporte sur les ties?" — Voyage de Bougainville, seconde 
edition, tome i. p. 113. 

t "They saw foxes on this land, which, Simson says, ' were twice as big; 
as those in England. Having brought greyhounds with us, we caught 
a young fox alive, which we kept on board some months, but on the first 
firing our great guns in the South Sea, he was frighted overboard, as 
were also some St. Jago monkies. As to the antiquity of these foxes, as 
they cannot fly, and it is not likely they should swim so far as from 
America, nor again is it probable that any would be at the pains of 
bringing a breed of foxes so far as Hawkins' Island is from any other 
land, it will follow that there have either been two distinct creations, or 
that America and this land have been formerly the same continent.' 
There are means more within the common course of nature than those 
which occurred to Simson, by which foxes may have become inhabitants 
of this land. Islands of ice are met at sea in much lower southern lati- 



All who have seen these animals alive have been struck 
by their eager ferocity and disregard of man's power. Byron 
says, " Four creatures of great fierceness, resembling wolves, 
ran up to their bellies in the water to attack the boat !" also, 
" When any of these creatures got sight of our people, though 
at ever so great a distance, they ran directly at them." — " They 
were always called wolves by the ship's company ; but except 
in their size and the shape of the tail, I think they bore a 
greater resemblance to a fox. They are as big as a middle-sized 
mastiff, and their fangs are remarkably long and sharp." 
" They burrow in the ground, like a fox."" The Beagle's offi- 
■ cers, when employed in surveying the Falklands, were often 
annoyed, as well as amused, by the intrusion of these fearless 
animals. In size, the larger ones are about twice as bulky as 
an Eno-lish fox, and they stand nearly twice as high upon 
their less.* Their heads are coarser, and their fur is not only 
thicker as well as longer, but it is of a woolly nature. 

Referring again to a resemblance between the Falkland and 
Patagonian foxes, I may remark, that there is as much difference 
in size, in coat, and in tail, between the guanaco of Port Desire 
and that of Navarin Island (near Cape Horn), as there is be- 
tween the fox of West Falkland and that of Port Famine. 
What the Patagonian animal is which the Blanco Bay people 
called ' wolf,'-!- or to which Pigafetta alluded in his vocabulary 
of words used by the Patagonians at Port San Julian, as equi- 
valent to ' ani,'J I cannot say : I was inclined to suspect an 
equivoque arising out of the word ' lobo,' which means seal as 
well as wolf; but Lieut. Wickham says he saw a wolf near the 
Colorado River. § The Falkland foxes feed upon birds, rab- 

tudes, many of which, no doubt, are formed in the bays and rivers of the 
continent. Seals and sea-birds repose on the edge of the shore, whether 
it is ice or land, and foxes, or other animals, in search of prey, will fre- 
quently be carried away on the large pieces of ice which break off and 
are driven out to sea." — Barney, vol. iv, pp. 331-332. 

* The country they range over being- open, without trees, does not 
require them to steal along under branches, like the foxes of a woody 
country. t Page 107 of this volume. 

: Burney, vol. i. p. 37. § Page 296. 


bits, rats and mice, eggs, seals, &c., and to their habits of 
attacking king-penguins, if not seal, while alive, I presume that 
a part of their unhesitating approach to man maybe traced. 

Naturalists say that these foxes are peculiar to this archipe- 
lago, and they find difficulty in accounting for their presence 
in that quarter only.* That they are now peculiar cannot be 
doubted ; but how long they have been so is a very different 
question. As I know that three hairy sheep, brought to Eng- 
land from Sierra Leone in Africa, became woolly in a few 
years, and that woolly sheep soon become hairy in a hot coun- 
try (besides that their outward form alters considerably after 
a few generations) ; and as I have both seen and heard of wild 
cats, known to have been born in a domestic state, whose size 
surpassed that of their parents so much as to be remarkable ; 
whose coats had become long and rough ; and whose phy- 
siognomies were quite difterent from those of their race who 
were still domestic ; I can see nothing extraordinary in foxes 
carried from Tierra del Fuego to Falkland Island becoming: 
longer-legged, more bulky, and differently coated. But how 
were they carried there ? In this manner : — In page 242, the 
current was mentioned which always sets from Staten Land 
towards the southern shores of the Falklands — icebergs or trees 

• Forster, as an exception, saw no difficulty in accounting for their 
involuntary migration. " M. Forster, Anglais, de la Societe Royale, qui 
a fait a cet ouvrage I'honneur de le traduire, a accompagne sa traduction 
de plusieurs notes." — " Je dois dire que toutes ses notes ne sontpas egale- 
nient justes ; par exemple, dans le chapftre de I'Histoire Naturelle des 
lies Malouines, il est surpris de ce que je le suis d'avoir trouve sur ces 
Jles un animal quadrup^de, et de mon embarras sur la manifere dont il a 
ete transporte. II ajoute qu'ayant pass6 comme je I'ai fait plusieurs 
annees en Canada, j'aurois dft savoir que des quadrupfedes terrestres se 
trouvant sur de grandes glaces au moment oh. elles sont d6tachees des 
terres, sont emportees a la haute mer, et abordent a des c6tes fort eloi- 
gnees de leur pays natal, sur lesquelles ces masses de glace viennent 
echouer. Je sais ce fait ; mais M. Forster ne sait pas que jamais les 
voyageurs n'ont rencontre de glaces flottantes dans les environs des fles 
Malouines, etque dans ces contrees il ne s'y en peut pas former, n'yayant 
ni grand fleuve ni meme aucune riviere un peu considerable.— Voyage 
jie Bougainville, seconde edition, torn. i. pp. xiv. et xv. (note). 


<lriftecl by that current and westerly winds afford the means 
of transport ; and I appeal to the quotations already made 
from Forster's and Bougainvil]e''s works for proof that animals 
may be so carried. 

Because we do not know that there are foxes at this time 
upon Staten Land, it does not follow that there are none, or 
that they have never been there ; and as guanacoes, pumas, and 
foxes are now found on Eastern Tierra del Fuego, why might 
not foxes have been carried to Staten Land and thence to the 
Falklands, or, which is still more probable, drifted from Eas- 
tern Tierra del Fuego direct. I have heard somewhere, though 
I cannot recollect the authority, that a man in North America 
hauled a large old tree to the bank of a river in which it was 
floating towards the sea, and proceeded to secure it on the 
bank, when to his astonishment, out of a hole in the tree 
jumped a fine fox. Clusters of trees are often found floating, 
which have fallen off" a cliff, or have been carried out of a 
river ; and once in the ocean, they are drifted along partly by 
currents and partly by wind acting upon their branches or 
exposed surfaces. 

Rats and mice were probably taken to the Falklands by the 
earlier navigators who landed there, whose ships were often 
plagued with their numbers.* That they have varied from the 
original stock in sharpness of nose, length of tail, colour, or 
size, is to be expected, because we find that every animal varies 
more or less in outward form and appearance, in consequence 
of altered climate, food, or habits ; and that when a certain 

• In Viedma's Diary of an Expedition to Port San Julian in 1780, he 
says, " El Bergantin San Francisco de Paula entr6 en el riachuelo para 
descargarlo y dar humazo a las ratas." (The brig San Francisco de 
Paulo went into the creek to be unloaded and smoked, to kill the rats (or 
mice, ratas signifying either). In Magalhaens' voyage (1520) " Juan (a 
Patagonian) seeing the Spaniards throwing mice into the sea, desired he 
might have them for food; and those that were afterwards taken being 
given to him, he carried them on shore." — Burney, vol. i. p. 34. Perhaps 
some of those mice reached land alive, as the ships lay close to the 
shore. Many other vessels, however, afterwards staid some time in Port 
San Julian, particularly those of Drake. 


change, whatevei' it may be, is once effected, the race no longer 
varies while under similar circumstances; but to fancy that 
every kind of mouse which differs externally from the mouse of 
another country is a distinct species, is to me as difficult to 
believe as that every variety of dog and every variety of the 
human race constitute a distinct species. I think that naturalists 
who assert the contrary are bound to examine the comparative 
anatomy of all these varieties more fully, and to tell us how far 
they differ. My own opinion is, judging from what I have 
gathered on the subject from various sources, that their ana- 
tomical arrangement is as uniformly similar as that of the 
dogs and of the varieties of man. 

On East Falkland there are numbers of rabbits, whose stock 
is derived from those carried there by Bougainville or the Spa- 
niards. Among them were some black ones (when I was there), 
which had been pronounced indigenous, or, at all events, not 
brought from Europe. A specimen of these pseudo-indigenous 
animals has been carefully examined by those to whom a new 
species is a treasure, but it turns out to be a common rabbit. 

Sea-elephant and seal (both hair and fur-seal) were abundant 
along the shores of the archipelago in former years, and by 
management they might soon be encouraged to frequent them 
again;* but now they are annually becoming scarcer, and if 
means are not taken to prevent indiscriminate slaughter, at any 
time of year, one of the most profitable sources of revenue at 
the Falklands will be destroyed. 

Whales frequent the surrounding waters at particular sea- 
sons, and they are still to be found along the coasts of Pata- 
gonia and Tierra del Fuego (within easy reach from the Falk- 
lands), though their numbers are very much diminished by 
the annual attacks of so many whale-ships, both large and 
small, which have made the Falklands their head-quarters during 
the last twenty years. 

A valuable source of daily supply, and by salting, of foreign 

* On the little island ' Lobos,' in the river Plata, passed and there- 
fore to a certain degree disturbed daily by shipping, seals are numerous ; 
being preserved like game, and destroyed only at intervals. 



export, is the inexhaustible quantity of fish which swarm in 
every harbour during the summer. The description which 
most abounds is a kind of bass, from two to three feet long, 
and six inches in depth : it takes salt well, and has been ex- 
ported by cargoes to the river Plata* and to Rio de Janeiro ; 
and there are delicious small fish in such shoals, that our boats' 
crews were sometimes obliged to let a large portion escape from 
the net before they could haul it ashore without tearing.-|- 

Mr. Vernet said, " We have a great abundance of fish in all 
the bays, where they come at the beginning of spring to spawn. 
In the winter season they retire. They enter regularly twice 
in the twenty-four hours, at about half-flood. They are caught 
in such numbers, that ten or twelve men salted about sixty 
tons in less than a month. Generally, they are caught with a 
net, but they will also take the hook ; they are of a species be- 
tween the mullet and the salmon, and become very fat towards 
the end of the summer. They are very good eating, and when 
salted, some prefer them to the cod-fish." — Vernet, MS. 1831. 
In the fresh-water ponds, so numerous on the large islands, 
there is a very delicate fish, somewhat resembling a trout, which 
may be caught by angling. The shell-fish are chiefly mviscles 
and clams, both of which are very abundant, and easily ga- 
thered at low water. 

It may here be remarked that the cod-fishery ofl" Patagonia 
and Tierra del Fuego might be turned to very good account 
by settlers at the Falklands. 

Of the feathered tribe there are numbers, but not much 
variety has been found— a natural consequence of the absence 
of trees. Three or four kinds of geese,:[: two kinds of snipe, 
several varieties of the duck, occasionally wild swans of two 

• Where fish, thoug^h plentiful, does not take salt well. 

t Many tons have been taken at a haul. 

t One kind of goose, that which has erroneously been called a bustard, 
arrives in a tame condition, about April or May, with easterly winds. 
Perhaps these birds come from Sandwich Land, or even Enderby Land. 
Their tameness may be a consequence of being ignorant of man, or of 
the half-tired state in which they arrive. 


kinds, a sort of quail (like that of Tierra del Fucgo), carrion- 
hawks or vultures, albatrosses, gulls, petrel, penguins, sea- 
hens, shags, rooks, curlew, sandpipers, rock-hoppers, and a 
very few land-birds, are found about most of the islands. * 

Although there are no trees, a useful kind of brushwood 
grows abundantly in vallies, to the height of three or four feet, 
and thickly set together. Over level plains it is but thinly 
scattered. The settlers use this brushwood for liffhting their 
peat-fires. There are three kinds of bushes : one grows straight, 
from two to five feet high, with a stem from half an inch to 
an inch and half in diameter : this kind is found abundantly 
in most of the vallies. Another is common about the southern 
parts of the islands, and has a crooked trunk, as thick as a man's 
arm, growing to about three feet in height. The third is 
smaller still, being little better than heather ; it grows almost 
every where, though scantily. 

Peat is inexhaustible ; and, if properly managed, answers 
every common purpose of fuel, not only as a substitute, but 
pleasantly.-j- It will not, however, in its natural state, answer 
for a foi'ge; but if dried and subjected to heavy pressure for 
some time before use, a much greater heat might be derived 
from it. 

There is but little diiFerence in the quality of the grass, 
either on high or low land ; but in sheltered valleys it is longer, 
softer, and greener, than elsewhere. The whole face of the 
country is covered with it ; and in some places, especially over 
a peaty soil, its growth becomes hard and rank. In the 

* ' Birds' eggs are so numerous at the proper season, that " eight men 
gathered at one place alone, in four or five da3's, upwards of sixty thou- 
sand eggs, and might have collected twice that number had they re- 
mained a few days longer." — Vernet, MS. 1831. 

•f " The ■want of wood on these islands would be a great inconvenience, 
were it not that good peat is very abundant. I have burned many tons, and 
found it an excellent substitute for coal. Tn order to get it drv, it is 
necessary to pull it from the sides of the pit, not very deep ; and as there 
are several peat-holes, by working them alternately, the material may be 
procured in a state fit for use." — Weddell's Voyage, p. 88. 


southern half of East Falkland, whore, as I mentioned, the 
soil is good, there is abundance of long, but brownish grass 
over all the country, and at the roots of it there are sweet 
tender shoots, sheltered from the wind, much liked by cattle. 
In that district there are several varieties of grass growing on 
fine dark-coloured earth, mixed with light white sand ; and, 
although, from never being cut, it has a rugged and brown 
appearance, its nutritive properties must be considerable, as 
the finest cattle are found feeding there. Mr. Bynoe remarked 
to me, that wherever the surface of the ground had been broken 
by cattle, he found a very dark-coloured earth mixed with 
sand or clay, or else clay mixed with gravel and sand. That 
the clay is good for bricks has been mentioned ; but I have 
not said that there is stone of two or three kinds suitable for 
building, and that any quantity of lime may be obtained by 
burning fossil shells brought from the coast of Patagonia, 
where the cliffs are full of them, or by collecting the shells 
scattered upon the Falkland shores. Another natural produc- 
tion, of more value than it has hitherto been considered, is the 
common sea-weed or kelp ; * and I am told by Sir Woodbine 
Parish that the archil or orchilla weed was obtained there by 
the Spaniards. 

It is to be remarked, that the soil of East Falkland has been 
very much improved in the neighbourhood of the settlement, 
as well as around the estancia, or farm, where the tame cattle 
are kept, in consequence of the treading and manuring it has 

• The manner of extracting potash from sea-weed is as follows : — 
When a sufficient quantity of kelp has heen collected, it is spread out in 
a place where it will be dried by the sun and wind, and when dry enough 
to burn, a hollow is dug in the ground three or four feet wide ; round its 
margin are laid stones, on which the weed is placed and set on fire. 
Quantities of this fuel being continually heaped upon the circle, there is 
in the centre a constant flame, from which a liquid substance, like melted 
metal, drops into the hollow beneath. This substance is worked, or 
stirred, with iron rakes, and brought to an uniform consistence while in 
a state of fusion ; and when cool, it consolidates into a heavy, dark- 
coloured alkaline substance, which undergoes in the glass-houses a second 
vitrification, and then assumes a perfect transparency. 




received. The grass is there as short and as sweet as horses 
could desire ; and does not this show, that by folding, on a 
large scale, any extent of pasture land might, by degrees, be 
brought to a similar condition? Why sheep have not been 
carried there in greater numbers I am not aware, but judging 
from the climate, and the fur of the foxes, I should suppose 
that the long-wooUed sheep would do well, and perhaps improve 
the staple of its wool, as the merino sheep has done in an oppo- 
site manner — by transportation to Australia. Pigs have in- 
creased in great numbers on the small islands, where their 
young are safer from the foxes, and where there is abundance of 
the sedgy grass called tussac, the roots and stalks of which 
are much liked by them. 

The size and fatness of the wild cattle is a clear proof that 
the country is adapted for grazing. Of twenty wild bulls 
which were killed during one excursion of the settlers, shortly 
before the Beagle's arrival, the average weight of each hide was 
above seventy, and a few weighed eighty pounds. Some of 
these animals are so fat and heavy, that the gauchos say they 
cannot drive them across the marshy grounds which are passed 
by the other cattle, as well as by men on horseback. It has 
been also ascertained that meat takes salt remarkably well in 
that climate; and as salt of excellent quality, as well as salt- 
petre, abounds on the coast of Patagonia, there is no reason 
why large quantities of salt meat and salt fish should not be 
prepared there, and exported to the Brazils, to the East, to 
Chile, and Peru, besides supplying a number of the ships which 
would touch there. 

But there are alleged disadvantages to contend against, 
which must not be overlooked for a moment. It is very 
doubtful whether corn will ripen. Fruit, which requires much 
sun, certainly will not, and culinary vegetables have been 
said to run to stalk and become watery. Nevertheless, Mr. 
Brisbane assured me that wheat had been tried in Vernet's 
garden, and that there it grew well, producing a full ear and 
large grain. The garden was small, slightly manured, and 
defended from wind by high turf fences. Potatoes, he said, 


grew large, though watery ; but it was easy to see that justice 
had not been done to them, whole potatoes having been put 
into holes and left to take their chance, upon a soil by no 
means so suitable for them as might have been found. Planted 
even in this rough way, Mr. Bynoe collected three pounds 
weight of potatoes from one root. By proper management, I 
think that they, as well as turnips, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, 
and other esculent plants, might be brought to great perfec- 
tion, particularly on sheltered banks sloping towards the 
north-east. The turnips which I saw and tasted were large 
and well-flavoured : the largest seen there weighed eight 
povmds and a-half. Flax has been tried in a garden, and suc- 
ceeded. Mr. Bynoe saw some of it. Hemp has never yet been 
tried. Currant bushes (ribes antartica) have been transported 
from Tierra del Fuego, and tried near the settlement, but 
their fruit did not ripen properly. It ought, however, to be 
remembered that those currants are wild, a bad sort of black 
currant, and that when ripe in Tierra del Fuego they are 
scarcely eatable. 

We read in Bougainville and Wallis, that thousands of 
young trees were taken up by the roots in the Strait of 
Magalhaens, and carried to the Falkland Islands ; but no 
traces of them are now visible either at Port Egmont or Port 
Louis. Perhaps they were taken out of their native soil at an 
improper period, exposed to frost or salt water, while their 
roots were uncovered, and afterwards planted by men who 
knew more of the main brace than of gardening. Bougainville, 
however, had industrious ' families Acadiennes' with him, 
under whose care the young trees ought to have fared better 
than under the charge of Wallis's boatswain. Mr. Brisbane 
told me that he had brought over some young trees from 
Tierra del Fuego for Mr. Vernet ; that some had died, but 
others (which he showed me) were growing well in his garden. 
From the opinions I have collected on the subject, and from 
what has been effiected on waste lands, downs, and exposed 
hills in England and Scotland, by planting thousands at once 
instead of tens, I have no doubt whatever that trees may be 


grown upon either Falkland, and that the more are planted the 
better they would grow — assisting and sheltering each other. 
At first, young plants or trees should have banks of earth raised 
near them, to break the fury of south-west storms, and the most 
sheltered situations, with a north-east aspect, should be chosen 
for a beginning. 

Anti-scorbutic plants are plentiful in a wild state, such as 
celery, scurvy-grass, sorrel, &c. ; there are also cranberries,* 
and what the settlers call strawberries, a small red fruit, growing 
like the strawberry, but in appearance and taste more like a 
half -ripe blackberry. I must not omit the ' tea^plant,' made 
from which I have drank many cups of good tea,-f- and the 
settlers use it frequently. It has a peculiar effect at first upon 
some people, which is of no consequence, and soon goes off.;}: 
This little plant grows like a heath in many parts of the Falk- 
lands as well as in Tierra del Fuego, and has long been known 
and used by sealers.^ The large round gum plant ( Hydrocelice 
gummifere), common in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, is 
abundantly found, and, when dried, is useful for kindling 
fires, being extremely combustible. The gum which exudes 
from its stalks when cut or broken, is called by the settlers 
' balsam," and they use it quite fresh for wounds ; at the least 
it answers the purpose of sticking-plaister. In summer it may 
be collected in considerable quantities, without injuring the 
plants, as it then oozes out spontaneously ; even while green, 
the whole plant is very inflammable. The gauchos, when in 
the interior of the islands, tear it asunder, set it on fire, and 
roast their beef before it. Within the stems of the tall sedgy 
grass, called tussac, is a white sweetish substance, something 
like the kernel of an unripe nut ; this is often eaten by the set- 

* One reason for the arrival of flights of geese during April and May- 
may be, that the cranberries are then ripe, of which they are very fond. 

t At my own table I have seen it drank by the officers without their 
detecting the difference : yet the only tea I used at other times was the 
best that could be obtained at Rio de Janeiro. 

+ U m ciens. 

^ It produces a small berrj', of very pleasant taste, which when ripe 
is eaten as fruit. 


tiers, and is so much relished by cattle, horses, and pigs, that 
the plant itself is greatly diminished in quantity, and now can 
only be found in its former luxuriance upon islands where 
cattle or hogs have not access. These flags or rushes are more 
than six feet high ; they make good thatch and a soft bed. 
There is a shrub, or rather creeper, of which the French made 
a kind of beer, thought to be wholesome and anti-scorbutic ; 
and there are other vegetable productions which are of little 
consequence, perhaps, except to botanists,* and as most of 
them were long ago well described by Bougainville, I may 
beg the reader to refer to his fourth chapter (Details sur Fhis- 
toire naturelle des lies Malouines) for a very faithful and well- 
written account, to every statement in which, as far as my 
own knowledge goes, I can bear testimony. 

Having mentioned the principal productions, it remains to 
say what more may be effected and what improvements may be 
made by an industrious colony. Land, which is now in a state 
of nature, might be surprisingly improved by ploughing and 
manuring with burned peat or with kelp, which is so abundant 
on every part of the shore. Walls, or rather mounds of turf, 
a few feet in height, would assist the slopes of the ground in 
sheltering cultivated soil from south-west winds, and where 
stones, as well as turf, are so plentiful, it would be worth while 
to make a number of small enclosures for fields as well as gar- 
dens, taking care always to select the sides of hills, or rather 
sloping grounds which incline towards the north-east. Fresh 
water being abundant everywhere, and the islands being so 
much cut into by the sea, that water carriage could be obtained 
to within a very few miles of any place, there can be no great 
preference for one locality rather than another, with a view to 
agriculture alone ; but of course the principal settlement must 
be near the eastern extremity of the archipelago, because that 
part is most accessible to shipping, and even now frequently 
visited. A colony planted near Port William, or at Port 
Louis, with a small establishment to supply the wants of ship- 

• " On a spot, twelve feet square, chosen indiscriminately on the rising 
grounds in the interior, twenty-seven different plants were counted." — 
(Vernet, MS.) 


ping at Port William, could not fail to prosper, if a free port 
Avere offered there to ships of all nations. Homeward-bound 
ships from our rapidly growing colonies in Australia, as well 
as those from Mexico, Peru, and Chile, are often in want of a 
port to which they can resort about the middle of their voy- 
age. The River Plata is out of the way and dangerous ; Santa 
Catharina is almost as much out of reach, and deficient in 
many articles of supply ; Rio de Janeiro and Bahia are also 
out of the line and very expensive, though they are often 
resorted to ; St. Helena is too far east, scantily supplied, and 
more expensive than the Brazils. But almost every one of 
those ships 'sight' the eastern end of the Falklands as they pass 
by, to correct or verify their longitude, and how very little 
delay then would they experience, if the course were shaped 
so as to pass a little nearer Port William, and there heave to 
imder the lee of the land, or let go an anchor, as might be most 
suitable. Water and fresh provisions might be speedily pro- 
cured, at a price now moderate, and if a colony were once well 
organized, in a short time as low as in any part of the world. 
A few small vessels should be attached to the colony, and two 
small men of war, one of which should be always about the 
chief harbour, and the other visiting the various ports of the 
archipelago. I have alluded more than once to the fact of 
excellent fresh water being plentiful every where, and I may 
here add, that if a sailing tank-vessel were kept at Port Wil- 
liam in readiness to supply ships without delay, that one con- 
venience only, when generally known, would ensure the visits 
of almost every Australian and Mexican trader, besides many 
others. No one making a long voyage hesitates to take in an 
additional supply of good water during his passage, if he can do 
so without delay (of consequence) and without danger. It is 
the natural unwillingness to get in with the land — to be delayed 
in port — to pay heavy port dues, and to risk losing men— that 
generally induces seamen in command of vessels to avoid every 
port excepting that to which they are bound ; but if you could 
ensvire to a ship loading at Sydney a safe ' half-way house' at 
the Falklands, she would hardly prefer carrying a quantity of 


water, no longer necessary, to the proportion of cargo that 
might be stowed in its place. 

Local circumstances, such as the relative position of the 
land, the set of the tides and currents, the prevailing winds, 
and the accessibility of Port William or Berkeley Sound, con- 
tribute to make the easternmost part of the Falklands safer 
and more easy to approach than almost any place that I am 
acquainted with. 

With the supply of shipping, and the establishment of a fre- 
quented free port in view, as the first source of prosperity, colo- 
nists should augment the number of animals, birds, and vege- 
tables, which they see thrive so well there, and take little thought 
about corn, except for home consumption (unless indeed oats 
should be found to grow well). They should assiduously 
increase their stock of cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry, make 
butter and cheese, rear calves, and breed horses ; they should 
salt meat and fish; bring wood and lime from Tierra del Fuego 
and Patagonia, and turn their thoughts to supplying ships with 
water, fuel (perhaps dried peat), and provisions, in the quickest 
and cheapest manner. Hides, pig-skins, goat-skins, sheep-skins, 
wool, foxes' fur, rabbit-skins, bird-skins and down, horns, 
salt meat, salt butter, cheese, potash, orchilla weed, potatoes, 
salt-fish, seal-skins, seal-oil, whale-oil, and whale-bone, would 
form no indifferent return cargo for vessels carrying there 
implements of husbandry, stores of various kinds, flour and 
biscuit, clothing, lumber, furniture, crockery-ware, glass, cut- 
lery, and household utensils. North American vessels, laden 
with flour or lumber, might make very profitable voyages. 

I have always thought the Falklands an admirable place for 
a penal establishment, a thorough convict colony. A healthy, 
temperate climate, far removed from civilized countries, and 
(if used for such a purpose only) incapable of being injured 
by the presence of bad characters, as our mixed settlements 
have been — fully supplied with necessaries, yet without any 
luxuries — sufficiently extensive to maintain a large population, 
though small enough to be kept under the strictest martial 
law, and inspected every where, by water as well as by land — 


it seems to me the very best situation for locating those bad 
characters who are unfit to remain at home. But to whomso- 
ever it may happen to colonize these islands, there can be no 
doubt that industry will be well rewarded, that health, safety, 
and a fi-equent communication with the mother country, will 
be as certain as in any other colony, and that the only draw- 
backs to be anticipated are those likely to be caused by wind 
and deficiency of solar heat. 

Animals increase rapidly, and the quality of their hides or 
fur improves. Cows give a large quantity of excellent milk, 
from which good butter and cheese may be made. Not long 
since, a letter was received from the Hon. George Grey, Cap- 
tain of H.M.S. Cleopatra, in which he said that the milk and 
butter at Howick was not superior to that which he tasted at 
the Falklands. In the event of steamers engaging in the navi- 
gation of those seas,* a port of supply and repair, in short, a 
maritime depot would be required, in or near Tierra del 
Fuego; but no such establishment could easily be formed there 
without a military foixe, and occasional hostilities with the 
natives, whereas, at the Falklands, the only native opponents 
would be foxes, horses, and bulls.-f- This immense advantage 
over most habitable and fertile countries — the having no abo- 
riginal population — should be duly considered by those who 
may contemplate planting a colony there. Weddell says, " A 
settlement at this point of the South Atlantic would evidently 
afford great facilities to navigation. The extensive tracts of 
ground, well clothed with grass, and the quantity of fine 
cattle running wild on the island, are sufficient proofs of its 
being a country that might be settled to advantage. The win- 
ters are mild, the temperature being seldom so low as the 
freezing point. Several of my crew, indeed, went without 

* From Concep.cion (37° S.) to Elizabeth Island, near the eastern 
entrance of Magalhaens Strait, there is every where abundance of wood 
fuel for steamers. 

i It is very dangerous for persons on foot to approach the wild horses 
or cattle, especially the bulls, unless they are armed with rifles or balls 
(bolas) ; and even then, no one ought to venture alone. 


Stockings during the greater part of the winters we spent 
there. The south wind, however, is cold and stormy, but it is 
not frequent ; the prevailing winds are between S.W. and 
N.W., which, blowing from the coast of Patagonia, are com- 
fortably temperate. This climate appears to be in general 
much more temperate now than it was forty years ago, the 
cause of which may probably be, that immense bodies of ice 
were then annually found in the latitude: of 50°; this ice, 
between the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, would 
necessarily lower the temperature of both air and water, and 
consequently an unfavourable opinion of the climate was pro- 
duced.'' — Weddell's Voyage, pages 94-95. 

For much of the produce of the islands, such as salt-meat 
and fish, potatoes, oil, butter, cheese, tallow, &c. a ready 
market would always be found on the coasts of South Ame- 
rica, while other articles, previously mentioned, would have a 
free sale in Europe and North America. Should any accident 
happen to a vessel in doubling Cape Horn, obliging her to 
make for the nearest port at which she can obtain supplies, 
where can she now go ? To the River Plata on one side, or to 
Chiloe on the other — either of which is twelve hundred miles 
from Cape Horn ! 

A great temptation to shipping would be, the certainty of 
supplies, and freedom from harbour dues as well as pilotage. 
Twenty years after the first establishment of a colony would 
be quite soon enough to think of any port charges, and till 
that time, every encouragement ought to be given to vessels, 
by piloting them gratis, and charging for nothing but the sup- 
plies which they may choose to purchase, and for those, upon 
the lowest possible terms. As to pilotage, indeed, I may say 
that none is required, if a stranger has the chart now published 
by the Admiralty, for there is no danger in any of the Falkland 
harbours that is not distinctly buoyed by kelp. A few rocks 
in the offing are indeed to be guarded against, such as the 
Uranie Rock, and those near the Jason Isles; but a ship must 
have passed all those before a pilot could board her, under 
ordinary circumstances, and afterwards there would be no 



danger, if a vigilant look-out and common skill were exer- 

Berkeley Sound (besides many other ports) would contain a 
large fleet in security, while around it are coves and basins in 
which any repairs might be carried on. 

Probably some intercourse might be opened with the Pata- 
gonians, and, by them, with other roving tribes on the conti- 
nent, who would exchange guanacoes, horses, cattle, poultry, 
hides, horns, tallow, and hair, for hardware, clothing, cutlery, 
ornaments, saddles, spurs, bridles, &c. ; and as the guanaco is 
so warmly clothed in the high southern latitudes, and is capable 
of being domesticated,* it might be found a valuable animal to 
encourage among sheep and cattle at the Falklands. Mr. Bris- 
bane told me, that some wool, sent by Mr. Vernet from East 
Falkland to Liverpool, sold for nearly double the price of 
Buenos Ayres wool ; and this was the produce of sheep which 
had only been a few years on the island, of the Buenos Ayrean 
stock, vmmixed with any superior breed. To show how well 
the little colony, established by Mr. Vernet, was succeeding, 
prior to its harsh and unnecessary ruin by Captain Silas Dun- 
can, I will give an extract of a letter received from a brother 
officer who visited Port Louis. 

" The settlement is situated half round a small cove, which 
has a narrow entrance from the sound ; this entrance, in the 
time of the Spaniards, was commanded by two forts, both now 
lying in ruins, the only use made of one being to confine the 
wild cattle in its circular wall when newly brought in from 
the interior. The governor, Louis Vernet, received me with 
cordiality. He possesses much information, and speaks several 
languages. His house is long and low, of one story, with very 
thick walls of stone. I found in it a good libi-ary, of Spanish, 
German, and English works. A lively conversation passed at 
dinner, the party consisting of Mr. Vernet and his wife, Mr. 

* " Magalhaens, in his voyage, saw Patagonians who had with them four 
young guanacoes, led about with a kind of halter." — Burney, vol. i. p.34, 

anno 1520 And others on which they placed their wives. Pennant. 

At Mocha the natives had tame guanacoes, or alpacoes, in 151)8. In Peru, 
the llama has been a domestic animal as long as we have any record. 


Brisbane, and others ; in the evening we had music and 
dancing. In the room was a grand piano-forte ; Mrs. Vernet, 
a Buenos Ayrean lady, gave us some excellent singing, which 
sounded not a little strange at the Falkland Isles, where we 
expected to find only a few sealers. 

" Mr. Vernet's establishment consisted of about fifteen slaves, 
bought by him from the Buenos Ayrean Government, on the 
condition of teaching them some useful employment, and having 
their services for a certain number of years, after which they 
were to be freed. They seemed generally to be from fifteen to 
twenty years of age, and appeared contented and happy. 

" The total number of persons on the island consisted of 
about one hujidred, including twenty-five gauchos and five 
Indians. There were two Dutch families (the women of which 
milked the cows and made butter) ; two or three Englishmen ; 
a German family ; and the remainder were Spaniards and Por- 
tuguese, pretending to follow some trade, but doing little or 
nothing. The gauchos were chiefly Buenos Ayreans ; but 
their capataz or leader was a Frenchman." 

Such was the state of Vernefs settlement a few months 
before the Lexington's visit ; and there was then every reason 
for the settlers to anticipate success, as they, poor deluded 
people, never dreamed of having no business there without 
having obtained the permission of the British Government. 
They thought, naturally enough, that the Buenos Ayrean 
Government could not have sold the islands to Mr. Vernet, 
unless the state of La Plata had a right to them ; they believed 
that the purchase-money had been paid ;* but they were not 
aware that the British Government had protested formally 
against the pretended claim of Buenos Ayres, so quiet was 
that fact kept by the Argentine Government, although the 
solemn protest was made by Mr. Parish, the British consul- 
general, in November 1829- 

* It is said that officers in the Buenos Ayrean army, relations of Mrs. 
Vernet, had claims upon their Government, which they agreed should be 
liquidated by receiving certain sums of money from Mr. Vernet; in con- 
sideration of which the Government made over to him their pretended 
right of property in the Falklands and Staten Laud. 


However unjustifiably Mr. Vernet may, in fact, have behaved 
towards vessels belonging to the United States of North 
America, it must be remembered that he had a commission 
from the Buenos Ayrean Government, empowering him to act 
as civil and military governor of the Falklands ; that he 
believed the Buenos Ayrean authority valid ; and had no 
doubt in his own mind that he was doing right. Mr. Vernet, 
therefore, was no robber — no pirate — as he was termed by Cap- 
tain Duncan, because he tried to uphold his situation, and pre- 
vent his settlement being robbed by people who had no claim 
whatever upon any of the islands. However wrong Vernet's 
actions may have been, he was responsible to his Government 
for them ; and those who acted under his order, he having a 
legal commission, certainly did not deserve to be seized as 
pirates, put into irons, and so carried to the Plata ! Neither 
was it just (setting mercy quite aside) to destroy the infant 
colony, break open or tear down doors and windows, search 
houses, drawers, and chests, trample over gardens, break 
through fences, and ill-use the helpless, unarmed settlers to 
such a degree, that for many months afterwards whenever a 
man-of-war was seen approaching, the frightened inhabitants 
at once fled to the interior, not knowing how they might be 
treated. Poor Brisbane (of whom frequent mention has already 
been made, and of whom I have yet to speak), was taken, with 
others, in irons to Monte Video, where the British consul 
obtained his release ; he had joined Vernet in a contract to take 
seal upon the Falklands, and was left in charge of the settle- 
ment at the period of Captain Duncan"'s hostility. At that time 
Vernet himself was absent, having gone with his family to 
Buenos Ayres, in order that he might attend at the ensuing trial 
of those sealing vessels which had been detained by him for 
repeatedly taking seal upon the Falkland Islands, after he 
had duly warned them off. 

I have heard much of Mr. Vernet and his proceedings, 
from various quarters — from enemies as well as friends — and 
although I never met him, and therefore cannot be partial from 
friendship, I do sincerely pity his misfortunes ; and it is my 
belief that he has been much misrepresented. 


Anchor in Berkeley Sound — Le Magellan — British flag hoisted — Ruined 
Settlement — Mr. Hellyer drowned — Burial — French Whalers — Uni- 
corn — Adventure — Squall — Flashes — Fossils — Killing Wild Cattle — 
Sail from Falklands — River Negro — Maldonado — Constitucion — 
Heave down, copper and refit Adventure — Signs of weather — Sound 
banks — Los Cesares — Settle with Harris and part company — Blanco 
Bay — Return to Maldonado— Monte Video. 

March 1. The Beagle anchored at the south side of Berke- 
ley Sound (near the beach where Freycinet was obliged to run 
rUranie ashore, in 1820, after striking on the detached rock 
off Volunteer Point), and remained there till I had ascertained 
the state of affairs on shore : for seeing a French flag flying 
near some tents beliind Johnson Cove or harbour, and know- 
ing that, in 1831, the flag of Buenos Ayres was hoisted at a 
settlement in the sound, it was evident a change of some kind 
had occurred. Directly our anchor had dropped, a whale-boat 
belonging to the wrecked whale-ship, ' Le Magellan,' came 
alongside ; and from her chief mate (who was also whaling- 
master), we learned that his ship had parted from her anchors 
during a tremendous squall on the night of the 12th of 
January, and was totally wrecked. He then informed me 
that the British colours had been hoisted on these islands by 
H.M.S. Clio ; and that H.M.S. Tyne had since visited the 
port and saluted the flag ; that the white flag was hoisted at 
the French tents only as a signal to us ; and that he was sent 
by M. le Dilly, his captain, to entreat us to render them assist- 
ance. Two of our boats were forthwith manned ; one was sent 
to the settlement at Port Louis, and in the other I went to the 
Frenchmen at Johnson Cove. I found them very comfortably 
estabHshed in large tents made from the sails of their lost ship ; 
but they manifested extreme impatience to get away from the 
islands, even at the risk of abandoning the vessel and cargo. 
After due inquiry, I promised to carry as many of them as I 


could to Monte Video, and to interest myself in procuring a 
^ assage for the rest. 

Their ship was lying upon a sandy beach, one bilge stove in, 
and her hold full of sand and water ; but as there was no surf, 
and at high spring-tide the sea rose only to her deck, all the 
stores and provisions, if not the ship herself, might have been 
saved by energetic application of proper means soon after she 
was stranded. When I saw her it was not too late, but I had too 
many urgent duties to fulfil to admit of my helping those who 
would not help themselves. Returning on board, I met Mr. 
ChaflPers, who had been to Port Louis, and heard that there 
was no constituted authority whatever resident on the islands, 
but that the British flag had been left by Captain Onslow in 
charge of an Irishman, who had been Mr. Vernet's storekeeper. 
This man at first declined answering Mr. ChafFers's questions, 
because his uniform buttons were (as he thought) different from 
those of the Tyne's officers ; however, being a simple character, 
he soon became more loquacious than was wished. He told Mr. 
Chaffers that he was ordered to ' hoist the flag up and down'' 
when vessels arrived, and every Sunday : that there was 
' plenty of beef,' and as for rabbits and geese, only the ' poor 
people eat them.' 

2d. Weighed and shifted our berth to Johnson Cove. 3d. We 
got on board all the new rope, bread, salt meat, and small 
stores, which the Frenchmen had saved and wished us to em- 
bark for the benefit of their owners. Meanwhile, surveying 
operations were begun, and an officer despatched to the settle- 
ment, who informed me of the arrival of a merchant schooner 
(Rapid), fourteen days from Buenos Ayres, with Mr. Brisbane 
on board (as Vernet's agent as well as partner), who was de- 
lighted to meet our officer, finding in him one of those who 
helped to save his life when wrecked in the Saxe Cobourg in 

No sooner had Mr. Brisbane landed than the master and 
crew of the Rapid hastened to make themselves drunk, as an 
indemnification for the fatigues of their exceedingly long and 
hazardous voyage : and in that state they were found by the 



Beagle's officer. Next morning Brisbane came on board with his 
papers, and I was quite satisfied with their tenor, and the ex- 
planation which he gave me of liis business. Some misappre- 
hension having since arisen about his being authorized by Ver- 
net to act in his stead, I may here mention again (though no 
longer of any material consequence), that Brisbane's instruc- 
tions from Vernet authorized him to act as his private agent 
only, to look after the remains of his private property, and 
that they had not the slightest reference to civil or military 
authority. This settled, I went to Port Louis, but was indeed 
disappointed. Instead of the cheerful little village I once anti- 
cipated finding — a few half-ruined stone cottages ; some strag- 
gling huts built of turf; two or three stove boats; some broken 
ground where gardens had been, and where a few cabbages or 
potatoes still grew ; some sheep and goats ; a few long-legged 
pigs ; some horses and cows ; with here and there a miserable- 
looking human being, — were scattered over the fore-ground of 
a view which had dark clouds, ragged-topped hills, and a Avild 
waste of moorland to fill up the distance. 

" How is this .?" said I, in astonishment, to Mr. Brisbane ; 
" I thought Mr. Vernet's colony was a thriving and happy set- 
tlement. Where are the inhabitants ? the place seems deserted 
as well as ruined." " Indeed, Sir, it was flourishing," said he, 
"but the Lexington ruined it: Captain Duncan's men did 
such harm to the houses and gardens. I was myself treated as a 
pirate — rowed stern foremost on board the Lexington — abused 
on her quarter-deck most violently by Captain Duncan — 
treated by him more like a wild beast than a human being — 
and from that time guarded as a felon, until I was released by 
order of Commodore Rogers." " But," I said, " where are 
the rest of the settlers ? I see but half a dozen, of whom two 
are old black women ; where are the gauchos who kill the 
cattle .?" " Sir, they are all in the country. They have been 
so much alarmed by what has occurred, and they dread the 
appearance of a ship of war so much, that they keep out of the 
way till they know what she is going to do." I afterwards 
interrogated an old German, while Brisbane was out of sight. 


and after him a young native of Buenos Ayi-es, who both cor- 
roborated Brisbane's account.* 

At my return on board, I was shocked by the sad informa- 
tion that Mr. Hellyer was drowned. He had walked about a 
mile along the shore of a creek near the ship, with one of the 
Frenchmen, who then left him-f- (having recollected that he 
would be wanted for a particular purpose). Mr. Hellyer, 
anxious to shoot some ducks of a kind he had not before seen, 
walked on with his gun, saying he would return in half an hour. 

About an hour after this, the capataz of the gauchos, Jean 
Simon by name, riding towards the French tents to learn the 
news, saw clothes, a gun, and a watch, lying by the water side ; 
but, as no person was in sight, he thought they must have be- 
longed to some one in the boats which were surveying, so rode 
on quietly ; and not until another hour had elapsed, did he even 
casually mention to the Frenchmen what he had seen. They, 
of course, were instantly alarmed and hastened to the spot, with 
those of our party who were within reach. Some rode or ran 
along the shore, while others pulled in whale-boats to the fatal 
spot, and there, after much searching, the body was discovei-ed 
under water, but so entangled by kelp that it could not be 
extricated without cutting away the weed. Mr. Bynoe was one 
of those who found it, and every means that he and the French 
surgeon could devise for restoring animation was tried in vain. 
A duck was found dead in the kelp not far from the body, and 
his gun was lying on the beach, discharged, with which the 
bird had been shot. 

To me this was as severe a blow as to his own messmates ; 
for Mr. Hellyer had been much with me, both as my clerk and 
because I liked his company, being a gentlemanly, sensible 
young man. I also felt that the motive which urged him to 
strip and swim after the bird he had shot, was probably a 

* The German told me, among other things, that he had collected 
rabbit-skins at his leisure hours, and had made, at different times, above 
two hundred dollars by them. 

t It was a positive order on board the Beagle, that no one should 
make any excursion, in such places, alone. 


desire to get it for my collection. Being alone and finding the 
water cold, he may have become alarmed, then accidentally 
entangling his legs in the sea-weed, lost his presence of mind, 
and by struggling hastily was only more confused. The 
rising tide must have considerably augmented his distress, and 
hastened the fatal result. 

5th. This day we buried the body of our lamented young 
friend, on a rising ground near Johnson Cove, in sight of our 
ship. All the French attended the melancholy ceremony, as 
well as all our own party, excepting the very few who were 
obliged to stay on board. 

6th. An agreement was brought about, and witnessed by me, 
between M. le Dilly and the master of the Rapid schooner, by 
which the latter bound himself to convey to Monte Video those 
of the Magellan's crew whom the Beagle could not carry : and 
next day another French whaler arrived (the fourth we had 
lately seen), belonging to the owners of the Magellan, so there 
was no longer any want of help for M. le Dilly. 

A few days afterwards a sealing schooner, the Unicorn, 
arrived, Mr. Wilham Low being sealing master and part owner; 
and, although considered to be the most enterprizing and intel- 
ligent sealer on those shores, perhaps anywhere, the weather had 
been so much against him that he returned from his six months' 
cruise a ruined man, with an empty ship. All his means had 
been employed to forward the purchase and outfit of the fine 
vessel in which he sailed ; but having had, as he assured me, a 
continued succession of gales during sixty-seven days, and, tak- 
ing it altogether, the worst season he had known during twenty 
years' experience, he had been prevented from taking seal, and 
was ruined. Passengers with him were the master and crew of 
a North American sealing schooner, the Transport, wbich had 
been wrecked on the south-west coast of Tierra del Fuego, 
in Hope Harbour ; and he told me of two other wrecks, all 
occasioned by the gale of January 12-13th. 

At this time I had become more fully convinced than ever 
that the Beagle could not execute her allotted task before she, 
and those in her, would be so much in need of repair and rest, 

A'OL. II. X 

274 coNsiDKK,\TioNS — PURCHASE. March 

that the most interesting part of her voyage — the carrying a 
chain of meridian distances around the globe — must eventually 
be sacrificed to the tedious, although not less useful, details of 
coast surveying. 

Our working ground lay so far from ports at which supplies 
could be obtained, that we were obliged to occupy whole 
months in making passages merely to get provisions, and then 
overload our little vessel to a most inconvenient degree, as may 
be supposed, when I say that eight months"' provisions was our 
usual stock at starting, and that we sailed twice with ten 
months' supply on board.* 

I had often anxiously longed for a consort, adapted for car- 
rying cargoes, rigged so as to be easily worked with few hands, 
and able to keep company with the Beagle ; but when I saw 
the Unicorn, and heard how well she had behaved as a sea- 
boat, my wish to purchase her was unconquerable. A fitter 
vessel I could hardly have met with, one hundred and seventy 
tons burthen, oak built, and copper fastened throughout, very 
roomy, a good sailer, extremely handy, and a first-rate sea- 
boat ; her only deficiencies were such as I could supply, 
namely, a few sheets of copper, and an outfit of canvas and 
rope. A few days elapsed, in which she was surveyed very 
carefully by Mr. May, and my mind fully made up, before I 
decided to buy her, and I then agreed to give six thousand 
dollars (nearly £] ,300) for immediate possession. Being part 
owner, and authorized by the other owners to do as he thought 
best with the vessel in case of failure, Mr. Low sold her to me, 
payment to be made into his partners'" hands at Monte Video. 
' Some of his crew being ' upon the lay,' that is, having agreed 
to be paid for their work by a small proportion of the cargo 
obtained, preferred remaining at the Falklands to seek for 
employment in other vessels, others procured a passage in the 
Rapid, and a few were engaged by me to serve in their own 
vessel which, to keep up old associations, I named ' Adven- 
ture.' Mr. Chaffers and others immediately volunteered to go 

* Excepting water, of which we only carried six weeks. 


in her temporarily (for I intended to place Mr. Wickham in 
her if he should be willing to undertake the responsibility), 
and no time was lost in cleaning her out thoroughly, loading 
her with stores purchased by me from M. le Dilly and from 
Mr. Bray (lately master of the Transport), and despatching 
her to Maldonado, to be prepared for her future employment. 

This schooner was built at Rochester as a yacht for Mr. 
Perkins, and, as I have reason to believe, cost at least six 
thousand pounds in building and first outfit. Soon afterwards, 
she was armed and used by Lord Cochrane in the Mediter- 
ranean ; then she was fitted out by a merchant to break the 
blockade of Buenos Ayres ; but, taken by a Brazilian man-of- 
war, and carried into Monte Video, she was condemned as a 
prize and sold to Mr. Hood, the British Consul, who went to 
England and back again in her with his family ; after which, 
she was fitted out for the sealing expedition I have mentioned. 
At the time of my purchase she was in want of a thorough 
refit, and her internal arrangements required alteration ; but it 
happened that Mr. Bray and M. le Dilly had each saved enough 
from their respective vessels to enable me to load the Adven- 
ture on the spot with all that she would require ; from the 
former I bought anchors, cables, and other stores, amounting 
to .£'216 : and from M. le Dilly rope, canvas, and small spars, 
for which .£'187 were paid. Those who were conversant in 
such matters, the master, boatswain, and carpenter of the 
Beagle, as well as others, assured me that these articles were 
thus obtained for less than a third of their market prices in 
frequented ports. 

While the Beagle lay in Johnson Cove, we witnessed a 
memorable instance of the strength with which squalls some- 
times sweep across the Falklands. Our ship was moored with 
a cable each way in a land-locked cove, not a mile across, and 
to the south-westward of her, three cables' length distant, was 
a point of land which, under ordinary circumstances, would 
have protected her from sea, if not from wind. Our largest 
boat, the yawl, was moored near our eastern anchor, with a 
long scope of small chain. At six in the evening of a stormy 

T 2 


day (10th March), the wind increased suddenly from the 
strength of a fresh gale to that of a hurricane, and in a few 
minutes the Beagle brought both anchors ahead, and was pitch- 
ing her forecastle into the sea. Topgallant-masts were on deck, 
and yards braced sharp up all day ; but we were obliged to 
let go a third anchor, and even then had some anxiety for the 
result. Till this squall came, the water had been smooth, 
though of course covered with white crests ('horses*') ; but it 
was then changed into a short sea, such as I should have been 
slow to believe wind could have raised in that confined cove. 
The yawl, an excellent sea-boat, and quite light, was swamped 
at her moorings ; but I think that the chief cause of her filhng 
was a quantity of kelp which drifted athwart hawse and hin- 
dered her rising easily to the sea. 

During the month we remained in Berkeley Sound, I had 
much trouble with the crews of whaling or small seahug ves- 
sels, as well as with the settlers, who all seemed to fancy that 
because the British flag was re-hoisted on the Falklands, they 
were at liberty to do what they pleased with Mr. Vernet's pri- 
vate property, as well as with the wild cattle and horses. The 
gauchos wished to leave the place, and return to the Plata, but 
as they were the only useful labourers on the islands, in fact, 
the only people on whom any dependance could be placed for 
a regular supply of fresh beef, T interested myself as much as 
possible to induce them to remain, and with partial success, for 
seven staid out of twelve. 

While walking the deck after dark, I sometimes saw flashes 
of light on the distant hills, which it was difficult to account 
for as ' ignes fatui,' because they were seen only on the 
heights, and momentarily, long intervals intervening between 
each faint flash. I once remarked similar instantaneous 
glimpses of feeble light, like the flashing of a distant pistol, 
near Pecket Harbour, in Magalhaens Strait, during a rainy 
night, but on the hills, at the south side of Berkeley Sound, 
I witnessed such lights repeatedly. They were never bright or 
lasting — merely a faint sudden gUmmer — exactly as I have 
said, like the flash of a pistol, fired at a great distance. It has 


since occurred to me, that the phosphoric light spoken of by 
Bougainville in the following passage may be of a nature simi- 
lar to that which I saw, and that those momentary flashes 
might have been caused by the occasional fall of stones among 
ravines, near the summits of hills. " Des voyages entrepris 
jusqu' au sommet des montagnes (pour chercher des calcaires), 
n'en (de pierre) ont fait voir que d'une nature de quartz et de 
gres non friable, produisant des etincelles, et meme une 
lumiere phosphorique, accompagnee d'une odeur sulphureuse." 
— (Bougainville, Voyage autour du Monde, 1766-69, tome I., 
p. 100). 

The shattered state of most summits of mountains in these 
regions* has often struck me, many of them being mere heaps 
of rocks and stones, over which it is extremely difficult to 
climb. Mount Skyring may be cited as one remarkable 
instance ; there, the stones gave out a very sulphureous smell 
when struck together, and were strongly magnetic.-f- Light- 
ning, electricity, and magnetism being intimately related, one 
is led to think that, if the above conjecture is incorrect, there 
may be some connexion between these sudden glimpses of faint 
light and the transmission of the electric fluid. This much I 
am certain of, that they were not lights made by man, and 
that they were different from the will-o'-the-wisp, or ignis fatuus. 

My own employment obliged me to remain near the ship, 
but some of the officers made excursions into the interior, and 
to them and Mr. Brisbane I am indebted for most of the fol- 
lowing notices of these islands. 

Some very large bones were seen a long way from the sea- 
shore, and some hundred feet above the level of high water, 
near St. Salvador Bay. How they got there had often puz- 
zled Mr. Vernet, and Brisbane also, who had examined them 
with attention ; Brisbane told me they were whale's bones.]: 
The rocky summits of all the hills are amazingly broken up, 

* Falklands and Tierra del Fuego. f Vol.1., p. 382. 

% Bougainville says, " D'autres ossemens enormes, places bien avant 
dans les terres, et que la fureur des flots n'a jamais ete capable de porter 
si loin, prouventque la mer a baisse, ou que les terres se sont elevees." — 
Vol. I., pp. 112-113. 


like those of far higher elevations in Tierra del Fuego, and 
the fragments — some very large — have rolled down the near- 
est ravines, so that they look like the beds of dried-up tor- 
rents. The sand-stone, which is abundant, offers beautifully 
perfect impressions of shells, many of which were brought to 
England. In these fossils the minutest portions of delicate 
shells are preserved, as in a plaster of Paris cast, though the 
stone is now very hard. There are fine stalactites in some large 
caverns, but they are known only to a few sealers. The large 
muscles produce pearls of considerable size, though inferior 
quality, perhaps ; Mr. Brisbane had a small bottle full. In 
one of the cottages I saw a heap of good whalebone, and was 
informed that some hundred pounds worth had been picked up 
on the coasts, and sold to whalers for a tenth part of its Euro- 
pean value, in exchange for clothes, spirits, ammunition, and 
biscuit. On West Falkland there are beautiful pebbles, and 
on the heights fine crystals have been found. 

Although the climate is so much colder than that of Buenos 
Ayres, the gauchos sleep in the open air, when in the inte- 
rior, under their saddles, just as they do in the latitude of 
35°. While idling at the settlement they gamble, quarrel, 
and fight with long knives, giving each other severe wounds. 
With their loose ponchos, slouched hats, long hair, dark com- 
plexions, and Indian eyes, they are characters fitter for the 
pencil of an artist than for the quiet hearth of an industrious 
settler. Besides these gauchos, we saw five Indians (p. 267), 
who had been taken by the Buenos Ayrean troops, or their 
allies, and allowed to leave prison on condition of going 
with Mr. Vernet to the Falklands. Including the crews of 
some thirty whale-ships, hovering about or at anchor among 
the islands ; the men of several American vessels, all armed 
with rifles ; the English sealers with their clubs, if not also 
provided with rifles ; these cut-throat looking gauchos ; the 
discontented, downcast Indian prisoners, and the crews of 
several French whalers — who could not or would not see why 
they had not as good a right to the islands as Englishmen — 
there was no lack of the elements of discord ; and it was with a 

April 1833. wild cattle hukt. 279 

heavy heart and gloomy forebodings that I looked forward to 
the months which might elapse without the presence of a man- 
of-war, or the semblance of any regular authority. 

Our tender, the Adventure, sailed on the 4th of April, 
under the charge of Mr. Chaffers, who was desired to call off 
the River Negro, and thence go to Maldonado, moor his vessel 
close to Gorriti Island, land every thing, and commence her 
thorough refit. 

About this time one of the officers went to see some wild 
cattle taken. After riding far beyond the hills seen from Port 
Louis, a black speck was discerned in the distance — instantly 
the three gauchos stopped, adjusted their saddle-gear, lassoes, 
and balls, and then cantered off in different directions. While 
stopping, my shipmate saw that the black spot moved and 
doubled its size. Directly afterwards, he perceived five other 
black things, and taking it for granted they were cattle, asked no 
questions of his taciturn, though eager, companions, but watched 
their movements and galloped on with the capataz (Jean Simon), 
the other two making a detour round some hills. Having got 
down wind of the herd, Simon slackened his pace, and, lying 
along his horse's back, gradually ascended a slight eminence, 
beyond which the cattle were feeding. For a moment he stop- 
ped to look round : — there was a monstrous bull within a hun- 
dred yards of him ; three hundred yards further, were about 
twenty cows ; and in a valley beyond, was a large herd of 
wild cattle. Just then the heads of the other two men were seen 
a quarter of a mile on one side, also to leeward of the cattle, 
which were still feeding unsuspiciously. With a sudden dash 
onwards, such as those horses are trained to make, Simon was 
within twenty yards of the overgrown, but far from unwieldy 
brute, before he could ' get way on.' Whirling the balls arovind 
his head, Simon hurled them so truly at the bull's fore-legs, 
that down he came, with a blow that made the earth tremble, 
and rolled over and over. Away went Simon at full gallop 
after a fine cow ; and at the same time, each of the other men 
were in full chase of their animals. The herd galloped off almost 
as fast as horses ; but in a few moments, another bull was bel- 


lowing in impotent rage, and two cows were held tightly by 
lassoes — one being caught by Simon alone, and the other by 
his two companions. One of the men jumped off, and fastened 
his cow's legs together so securely, that she could only limp 
along a few inches at a time ; his horse meanwhile keeping the 
second lasso tight, as effectually as if his master had been on 
his back. Both lassoes were then shaken off, and one thrown 
over Simon''s cow, which had been trying in all kinds of ways 
to escape from or gore her active enemy, who — go which way 
she would — always kept the lasso tight ; and often, by check- 
ing her suddenly, half overset and thoroughly frightened her. 
Leaving his horse as soon as the cow was secure, Simon ham- 
strung the bulls, and left them where they fell, roaring with 
pain and rage. He then remounted, and all four cantered 
back towards the ' estancia' (or farm), where the tame cattle 
are kept. Simon was asked to kill the poor brutes before he 
left them; but he shook his head, with a sneer, and remarked, that 
their hides would come off easier next day ! At daybreak, the 
following morning, half-a-dozen tame cattle were driven out to 
the place of slaughter, and with them the frightened and 
ah'eady half-tamed cows (which had been left tied in a place 
where they had nothing to eat), were easily driven in to the 
farm. The two bulls were at last killed, skinned, cut up, and 
the best parts of their cai'cases carried to the settlement. The 
hides of those two animals weighed seventy-three and eighty-one 

Speaking to Simon myself one day about the indiscriminate 
slaughter of cattle which I had heard took place occasionally, 
he told me that the gauchos used sometimes to kill them for 
their tongues only, and, perhaps, a steak or two, for ' asado' 
(meat roasted on a stick), without taking the trouble to skin 
them ; being too great epicures in their way to feast twice 
upon the same animal. 

In 1834, while surveying the sea-coast of these islands, in 
the Adventure, Lieutenant Wickham, Mr. Low, and Mr. 
Johnson had many a bull hunt ; but though there was as 
much or more risk in their encounters, being on foot, with 


rifles, assisted only by a good dog, their adventures were indi- 
vidually rather than generally interesting. They used to land 
in unfrequented harbours, very near herds of wild cattle or 
horses, creep quietly along behind tussac or bushes, till they 
got within rifle-shot, take good aim at the fattest, and after 
firing, do their best to kill the animal, in general only wounded 
by a first shot. They had an excellent dog, who always seized 
the creatures by the lower lip, and diverted their attention from 
Mr. Johnson or Low, who otherwise might have lost their 
lives, on more than two occasions. 

The report of a gun usually alarmed the whole herd of cows, 
and off they went at a gallop ; but the lordly bulls were not 
to be hurried, they would stand and face their enemies, often 
charge them; when a precipitate retreat behind a rock, or to the 
boat, or across a boggy place, which the bull would not try, 
was the only resource, if their hardy dog was not by, to seize 
the angry animal, and give time for a well-directed shot. In 
those excursions, also, while ashore at night in small tents, 
the foxes used to plague them continually, poking their un- 
pleasant heads into the opening of the tent (while the man on 
watch was by the fire), stealing their provisions, and breaking 
their rest, after a fatiguing day's work. What with the foxes, 
the wild bulls, and the wild horses, it is thoroughly unsafe 
for a person to walk alone about the unfrequented parts 
of the Falkland Islands — even with the best weapons for 
self-defence against either man or beast. Several unfortunate 
people have been missed there, who wandered away from their 

April 6. — Having embarked M. le Dilly, with some of his 
officers and crew, and lumbered our little ship with the spars 
and stores purchased from him, we sailed from the Falklands. 
Our passage to within sight of the river Negro was short, 
though stormy, a south-east gale driving us before it, under a 
close-reefed fore- topsail. As the sea ran high, it might have 
been more prudent to have ' hove-to ;' but time was precious, 
and our vessel's qualities as a sea- boat, scudding as well as 'by 
the wind,' were well known. 


Early on the 12th, we were off the river Negro ; but baf- 
fling winds and a heavy swell (raised by the late gale), pre- 
vented our anchoring near the bar, or sending in a boat. 

Soon after noon on the 14th, while standing off and on, wait- 
ing for the swell to go down, and allow of a boat crossing the 
bar, a sail seen in the horizon was made out to be the Adven- 
ture. We steered for and spoke her, found all well, sent her on 
to Maldonado, and again stood towards the bar. Our tender, 
as I mentioned, sailed from Berkeley Sound on the 4th ; but 
was obliged to heave-to during the gale in which we were 
able to scud. 

Next day (15th), a decked boat, like the Paz, with some 
difficulty crossed the bar, and brought me letters from Lieu- 
tenant Wickham, by which I learned that he and his party 
had sailed from the river, intending to visit the Gulf of San 
Matias, only a few days before we arrived, having previously 
examined all the coast, from Port Desire to Valdes Creek.* 
I was sorry to hear that Corporal Williams, a very worthy 
man, in every sense of the words, had been drowned in the 
river Negro. Williams had been in two polar voyages, and 
under Captain King, in H.M.S. Adventure, from 1825 to 
1830. The rest of the party were well, and making rapid pro- 
gress with their task. Wind favouring, we made all sail for 
the Bay of San Jose, hoping to meet the little vessels under 
Lieutenant Wickham, but could not find them ;-)- so concluding 
that they had run further south than was intended at their 
departure from the Negro, we steered out of the Gulf of San 
Matias, and made sail for the Plata. 

At daylight on the 26th, land was seen near Maldonado, 
and at two, we anchored off Monte Video. In a few hours the 
French passengers were landed ; next day our anchor was 
again weighed, and at noon on the 28th we moored the Beagle 
in Maldonado Bay, close to the little island of Gorriti. Our 
tender, the Adventure, had arrived on the 23d. My thoughts 

* Or port, as it has been called, though imjiroperly, because it is at 
times almost blocked up by a bar. 
t They were in Port San Antonio. 

May 1838. plans — future views. 283 

were at this time occupied by arrangements connected with 
her, besides the usual routine observations. I was extremely 
anxious to fit the schooner properly, and to set her to work, 
but at the same time to keep all our other operations in active 
progress. A decked boat was lying in Maldonado, just built, 
which her owner, Don Francisco Aguilar, offered to lend me 
for two months, if I would rig her for him, and this proposal 
exactly suited my views, as it would enable me to send for 
Lieutenant Wickham, and supply his place by Mr. Usbome, 
leaving Mr. Stokes to continue the survey about San Bias and 
the Colorado. Accordingly, the Constitucion, as this little 
craft was named by her owner, was hauled alongside, and Mr. 
Usborne with a party, set to work in preparing her for a trip 
to the River Negro. On the 1st May Mr. Usborne sailed, 
having with him Mr. Forsyth and five men ; he was to go 
to the River Negro, join and assist Mr. Stokes, and inform 
Lieutenant AVickham that he was wanted at Maldonado, to 
take charge of the Adventure. The Constitucion was about 
the size of the Liebre, a craft I should hardly have thought 
fit for such a voyage had I not heard so much from Mr. Harris 
and his companion, Roberts, of the capital weather those 
decked boats make in a gale. With their hatches secured, tiller 
unshipped, a storm try-sail — or no sail at all set, and nobody 
on deck, they tumble about like hollow casks, without caring 
for wind or sea. 

Next day (2d) the Beagle returned to Monte Video, to 
procure carpenters, plank, and copper for the Adventure. I 
found that she was so fine a vessel, and so sound, that it 
was well worth while to copper her entirely afresh, with a 
view to her future operations among islands in the Pacific, 
where worms would soon eat through places on a vessel's bot- 
tom from which sheets of copper had been torn away. At this 
time the Adventure's copper was complete, but thin, and as 
the carpenters said it would not last above two years more with 
certainty, I determined to copper her forthwith, and make one 
substantial refit do for all. Here, to my great regret, Mr. 


Hamond decided to return to England,* and we consequently 
lost a valuable member of our small society. 

On the 17th, having engaged men and purchased plank, 
copper, provisions and other necessaries, we sailed from Monte 
Video, and next morning anchored in Maldonado. As soon as 
a part of our cargo was landed — all that was then wanted by 
the working party on Gorriti, under Mr. Chaffers — we pro- 
ceeded up the river to fill water, anchored again off Monte 
Video for a short time, and returned to our future consort 
at Gorriti (24th). Preparations were then commenced for 
heaving the schooner down to copper her. We hauled her 
alongside, and on the 28th hove her 'keel out,' for a few hours, 
and righted her again at dark. While standing on her keel, 
examining the state of her copper and planking, I saw a sail in 
the offing, which was soon made out to be the Constitucion, and 
just after we righted the schooner Lieut. Wickham came along- 
side. He brought good tidings— without drawback — and those 
who know what it is to feel anxiety for the safety of friends 
whose lives are risked by their willingness to follow up the 
plans of their commanding officer — however critical those plans 
may be — will understand my sensations that night. The Con- 
stitucion anchored off the Negro on the 11th, entered it next 
day, found the Paz and Liebre there, and on the 17th sailed 
again. Six knots and a-half an hour was the most she could 
accomplish under any circumstances, yet her passages were 
very good, considering the distance. During June we re- 
mained in Maldonado, employed about the Adventure, and 
refitting as well as painting our own ship. Meanwhile Mr. 
Darwin was living on shore, sometimes at the village of Mal- 
donado, sometimes making excursions into the country to 
a considerable distance; and my own time was fully occu- 
pied by calculations and chart-work, while the officers attended 
to heaving down the Adventure. This process, in a place 
partly exposed to south-west winds, was extremely tedious, 

* Provided that the Commander-in-Chief approved of his doing so — 
a sanction which I had no doubt of his receiving^. 

June 1833. signs of wkather. 285 

and had it not been for the great advantages Maldonado 
and Gorriti offered in other respects, the situation might 
have been deemed exceedingly ill-chosen for such a purpose. 
Only when there was no swell could we haul her alongside and 
heave her down (an operation under any circumstances difficult, 
as she was one hundred and seventy tons in burthen, and we 
were but two hundred and thirty-five) and many days some- 
times intervened on which no progress could be made. Every 
morning, at dawn of day, Lieut. Sulivan and I used to watch 
the sky most anxiously, in order to know whether it would be 
worth while unmooring, and warping the vessels together, and 
as the indications we looked for never deceived us, I will here 
mention them. Though familiar to all who lead a country or sea- 
faring life, and often rise before the sun, they may be of use to 
others, whose attention has not been drawn to 'weather wisdom."" 
When the first streak of light appeared close to the horizon, 
and the sun's rising was preceded by a glow of faint red, not 
extending far, a fine day succeeded, whether the sky were then 
overcast or clear ; but if the first gleam of light appeared high 
above the horizon, behind clouds, and there was much red, 
not only near the sun, but visible on clouds even near the 
zenith, wind, if not rain, was sure to follow. Between the 
extremes of course there may be many varieties of appearance 
as well as of succeeding weather ; but as I have found such 
signs followed by similar weather, in most parts of the world, 
and as I have often profited by them, with reference to mak- 
ing or shortening sail, &c. ; I do not like to pass over this 
occasion for a hint to the inexperienced. I have always found 
that a high dawn (explained above) and a very red sky, fore- 
told wind — usually a gale ; that a low dawn and pale sun-rise 
indicated fine weather ; that the sun setting behind a bank of 
clouds, with a yellow look, was a sign of wind, if not rain, and 
that the sun setting in a clear horizon, glowing with red, was 
an unfailing indication of a coming fine day. I have already 
said (page 50), that hard-edged, oily-looking clouds, foretell, 
if they do not accompany wind, and that soft clouds — clouds 
which have a watery rather than an oily look — are signs of 


rain ; and if ragged, or streaky, of wind also. Light foggy 
clouds, rising early, often called the ' pride of the morning,' 
are certain forerunners of a fine day. 

On the 8th of July the Beagle sailed from Maldonado, and 
anchored off Monte Video for a few days, waiting for the 
arrival of a packet from England. Directly the letters were 
received she returned to Maldonado. 

On the 18th, my survey work being finished, and our help 
no longer required at Gorriti, we sailed to sound eastward in 
the latitude of the English Bank, and then returned to make 
a few arrangements with Lieutenant Wickham, and obtain ob- 
servations for the chronometers, previous to making an excur- 
sion towards the south. 

On the 24th we sailed to Cape San Antonio, and thence 
along the coast, close by Cape Corrientes, and skirting the 
San Bias banks, till we anchored off the river Negro. There 
we found the Paz and Liebre just returned from their exami- 
nation of those intricacies which surround the ports between 
Blanco Bay and San Bias. The Liebre came out to meet us 
with a satisfactory report of pi'ogress, as well as health ; and, 
at her return, Mr. Darwin took the opportunity of going into 
the river, with the view of crossing overland to Buenos Ayres, 
by way of Argentina : after which, he proposed to make a 
long excursion from Buenos Ayres into the interior, while the 
Beagle would be employed in surveying operations along sea- 
coasts uninteresting to him. We then got under sail and began 
our next employment, which was sounding about the outer 
banks off San Bias and Union Bays, and examining those parts 
of Ports San Antonio and San Jose which the Paz and Liebre 
had been prevented doing by wind and sea ; besides which, I 
wished to see them myself, for many reasons, more closely 
than hitherto. The accumulation of banks about San Bias, 
and near, though southward of the river Colorado, is an object 
of interest when viewed in connection with the present position 
of the mouth of that long, though not large, river, which tra- 
verses the continent from near Mendoza, and which may have 
contributed to their formation ; at least, so think geologists. 


Be this as it may, there is now a mass of banks extending far 
to seaward, which make the coast from Blanco Bay to San 
Bias extremely dangerous; more particularly, as the adjoining 
shore is almost a dead flat, and so low, that in many parts it 
can only be seen when the observer is among, or upon, the 
shoals. The space between Union Bay and San Bias was very 
appropriately named by the Spaniards Bahia Anegada (dried 
up bay), because it is so shallow, and the inner parts are rather 
drowned land than actual water, being only covered at half 
tide. Falkner says (p. 77), that a Spanish vessel was lost in 
this bav, the crew of which " saved themselves in one of the 
boats, and sailing up the river arrived at Mendoza." Whether 
this ship was called ' Los Cesares'' I am not aware, but as 
there is an islet in the ' Bahia Anegada ^ named in the old 
Spanish charts, ' Isla de los Cesares,' I suspect that such was 
the fact, and incline to connect this story with the many 
rumours of a settlement, ' de los Cesares,' somewhere in the 
interior of Patagonia. Falkner says, that " the crew saved 
themselves in one of the boats ;""* but there were few Spanish 
vessels about that coast in the early part of the eighteenth 
century whose whole crew could have been saved in one of 
their boats.-}* If the remainder had formed even a temporary 
encampment about San Bias, or near the river Negro, it would 
have been described, with much exaggeration, by Indians of 
the west, as well as by those of the East country. A few men 
might have been admitted into a tribe of Indians who improved 
their habits and dwellings, so far as to have given rise to the 
curious reports so much circulated in South America, during 
the last century and even in this— of a colony of white people, 
with houses and gardens, in the interior of the continent, some- 
where about the latitude of forty degrees ; according to some 

* " In the year 1734, or thereabouts (within how many years after or 
before that time ?), the masts and part of the hulk were seen," (Falkner, 
p. 77-) The so-called ' Isla de los Cesares ' is closely attached to, if not a 
part of the main land at the west side of Anegada Bay. 

t Reports of the Cesares began to be circulated in the early part of 
the eighteenth century. 


between two ranges of the Cordillera ; others said it was in the 
plains ; but all appeared to think there was no doubt of the 
existence of such a settlement. 

In Villarino's Diary of his Exploration of Anegada Bay, 
I find that he was much assisted by horses and mules, which 
he carried on board his vessels, and landed as often as he had 
occasion to make a journey by land. At the river Negro I 
heard that some of these animals became so tame, and accus- 
tomed to landing and embarkation, that they would leap quietly 
into or out of the boats, when required.* 

On the 19th of August, we anchored near the bar of the 
Nesro, to meet the Paz and Liebre, take our officers and men 
on board, and pay Mr. Harris the money to which he was 
entitled, not only by contract, but by the uniform attention, 
activity, and thorough kindness, which he and his partner 
had shown to their temporary companions ; by their know- 
ledge as pilots, and by the useful information which they had 
readily given, to the full extent of their abilities. The complete 
success of that enterprize was greatly owing to the conduct of 
those two worthy men. Before dark all was settled, our party 
was safely on board ; we quitted Harris and Roberts, with 
their useful little craft, mutually satisfied ; and made sail for 
Blanco Bay, where there was still work to be done ; intending 
to add to our already numerous soundings, while following the 
seaward edges of the banks. 

On the 24th, we moored off the Wells, in Port Belgrano. 
Next day. Lieutenant Sulivan went with a party to explore 
the furthest extreme of the inlet, while others were occupied, as 
usual, in the various duties always necessary on board a ship, 
in addition to those of a survey. 

Mr. Darwin was at Argentina, and hearing of our arrival, 
rode to the Wells. He had met General Rosas on the Colo- 
rado, who treated him very kindly ; and he was enjoying his 
shore-roving without any annoyance, the old major being no 
longer afraid of a ' naturalista.' 

* Viedma and other Spaniards were similarly assisted in their expe- 

Sept! 1833. precautions — h.m.s. snake. 289 

On the 7th of September, we finally left Blanco Bay ; * but 
again sounded along the dangerous banks of Anegada Bay, 
determined to do our utmost to prevent vessels from getting 
ashore there in future, as many have done already, especially 
during the blockade of Buenos Ayres, when several prizes, 
which had been taken from the Brazilians, were wrecked and 
totally lost. 

In these surveying trips along-shore we always anchored 
when we could, in order to preserve our station and connect 
triangles ; but, of course, we were often obliged to weigh again 
at short notice, during the night ; therefore every preparation 
was made for any change of wind or weather, and a careful 
look-out always kept upon the deep-sea lead (invariably 
attended throughout the night), as well as upon the sympie- 
someter, the sky, and the water. I mention the deep-sea lead 
particularly, because however shallow the water may be, mis- 
takes are often made with the hand-lead, especially at night, 
when a tide or current is running, in consequence of the lead 
being drifted by the action of the water upon it and the line, 
and deceiving even a moderate leads-man ; who sometimes 
thinks the water much deeper than it really is — sometimes the 
reverse ; and never can tell exactly, under such circumstances, 
how a ship is moving over the ground, or whether she is drag- 
ging her anchors. 

Off Starve Island we were obliged to weigh in a hurry, one 
night, owing to a gale coming on from the south-east, and 
during the 10th and 11th, we carried a press of sail, to get 
off the land; the wind then drew round by the south, and a 
succession of baffling weather ensued, which prevented our 
doing any thing on the coast, and also hindered our reaching 
the Plata until the 16th, on which day we ran up to Monte 
Video, and anchored. 

On the 18th we weighed, hearing that H.M.S. Snake had 
brought stores and letters for us, and was at Maldonado, but 
had hardly lost sight of the town, when the Snake hove in 

* Mr. Darwin had previously departed on his road to Buenos Ayres. 
VOL. ir. u 


sight. Knowing her to be one of the new build, I altered 
course, to sail a few miles with her, and see how much she 
would beat us ; but, to my surpi'ize, she gained on us bvit 
little while running free with a fresh breeze, just carrying top- 
mast studding-sails ; and I was afterwards told by her officers, 
that though she sailed uncommonly well on a wind, and worked 
to windward wonderfully, she did nothing remarkable with a 
flowing sheet. I did not like her upper works ; they ' tumbled 
home' too much (like some old French corvettes) ; narrowing her 
upper deck, giving less spread to the rigging, and offering a 
bad form to the stroke of a heavy sea, whether when plunging 
her bow into it, or receiving it abeam. However good such a 
form may be for large ships, which carry two or three tier of 
guns, I cannot think it advantageous for flush-decked vessels 
or small frigates, and am quite certain that it is bad for boats. 
I here allude particularly to that ' tumbling home' of the upper 
works, which some persons approved of a few years ago. This 
is not the place, however, for a discussion upon naval architec- 
ture (even if I were qualified to deal with the subject, which 
assuredly I am not) ; but I cannot pass over an opportunity 
of adding my mite of praise to the genius and moral courage 
of Sir William Symonds and Captain Hayes, who, undeterred 
by opposition, and difficulties of every description, have suc- 
ceeded in infusing (if the metaphor may be allowed) so large 
a portion of Arab blood into the somewhat heavy, though stal- 
wart coursers of our native breed. Amidst the natural conten- 
tion of eager candidates for an honourable position, to which 
they have been accustomed to aspire, and for which some are 
doubtless admirably qualified, it is not sui-prising that due 
credit has not always been given to that originality and justi- 
fiable daring, of which the merits are attested by the Vanguard 
and Inconstant. Neither has it always been recollected, how- 
ever men may have differed in their opinions of this or that 
individual, as a naval architect, that the two best ships built 
of late years were constructed by naval officers, self-educated 
chiefly during the practice of their profession. I am quite 
aware, that some of those eminent architects who have con- 



structed good ships since 1810 — Sir Robert Seppings, Profes- 
sor Inman, Mr. Roberts, and Mr. Fincham, were very much 
restricted as to dimensions allowed with respect to guns to be 
carried ; and that, therefore, no one can pretend to say what 
degree of excellence the ships might have attained, had their 
architects been unshackled ; but taking things as they are 
— not as they might have been — to Symonds and Hayes (if 
not chiefly to the former) belongs the merit of having improved 
our navy materially. We are so apt to forget, during the heat 
of controversy, that even an approach to perfection is unattain- 
able, and the utmost any one can hope for is to have fewer 
faults than his rivals — that we should not hastily condemn, in 
any case, only because we can detect deficiencies or errors. 

Many persons have remarked, that notwithstanding all the 
competition, all the trials of sailing, and all the reported 
improvements, which have taken place since the peace, our 
fastest ships have not excelled some of those built by France, 
England, or other countries, during the war. My own know- 
ledge of those ships is only derived from the descriptions of 
persons who sailed in or chased them : but the conclusion I am 
led to draw from their accounts is that, with few exceptions,* 
those ships were very shghtly built, often of unseasoned timber, 
and that their rapid rate of sailing only lasted so long as their 
frames would yield to the fluid, and were not water-sodden. 
Recently launched, light, and elastic, confined by few beams, 
knees, or riders, held together by trunnions more than by 
metal, and intended only to sail swiftly — for a short existence 
— those greyhound vessels were as different in their construc- 
tion from the solid, heavy, durable ships of this day, as a light, 
active youth is from a well-set man trained to labour. 

A man-of-war requires strength, solidity, capacity ; great 

* The Malta (Guillaume Tell), Norge, and a few others, were splendid 
exceptions, but even in the construction of those ships far less iron and 
copper were used than is now customary in vessels of their class. By- 
substituting so much metal in place of wood, for knees, braces, and bolts, 
solidity, strength, and capacity are acquired in modern ships at the ex- 
pense, in most instances, of elasticity, and swift sailing. 



buoyancy for supporting her heavy metal, durabihty, and tena- 
city ; besides easiness as a sea-boat, and superiority of saihng. 
Vessels may easily be built to excel in any of these qualifica- 
tions ; but to excel in all is the climax, only to be obtained by 
genius, aided by extraordinary study and experience. 

After running a few miles with the Snake, and finding that 
she steered towards Buenos Ayres, we altered our course to re- 
sume our easterly route, and early next morning were anchored 
alongside the Adventure. 

As it was evident that another month must elapse before the 
schooner would be ready for her work, notwithstanding the zea- 
lous exertions of Lieut. Wickham and his crew, I decided to 
finish myself the survey, which I had intended he should begin 
with, namely, of the south shore of the Plata and a reported 
bank off Cape Corrientes — and defer the second visit to Tierra 
del Fuego until December or January. Accordingly, the Beagle 
sailed on the 23d, and after a close examination of Cape San 
Antonio and the great mud-bank, called Tuyu, which lies 
within it, we went to the neighbourhood of Cape Corrientes, 
and there looked about and sounded in every direction, but 
could find no shoal. We then returned to the river, and sounded 
Sanborombon Bay, laying its shores down on the chart as accu- 
rately as we could, considering that the water was every where 
so shoal, that even a boat could not get within half a mile of 
the land, except at particular times, for which we could not 
wait. The distance at which the Beagle was obliged to keep, 
varied from four miles to three (seldom less), and then she was 
sailing in about a foot more Avater than she drew.* 

On the 6th of October we returned to Maldonado ; to pre- 
pare for a long excursion southward, and to hasten the equip- 
ment of the Adventure. By the 19th she was almost ready, so 
we weighed in company, ran up the river to water, and on the 
21st moored off Monte Video, to take in our final supplies pre- 
vious to quitting the River Plata for the last time. Here, to 
my surprise, I found people talking about the English having 

* The Beagle's draught of water was eleven feet and a half forward, 
and thirteen feet aft, when in ordinary loaded trim. 

■1833. ABSUllU REPORTS FLAG. 298 

taken possession of the island of Gorriti, and built houses 
upon it. This, I knew, must in some way have arisen out of 
the temporary encampment of the Adventure's crew ; and en- 
quiring further, I found that columns of the Monte Video 
newspapers had been filled with discussions on the subject.* The 
local authorities at Maldonado having been told (incorrectly) 
that the English had hoisted British colours upon the island — 
had repaired several old buildings — and had erected a house 
with glass windows, for the commanding officer's residence — 
became alarmed ; and as stories seldom lose by repetition, the 
good people of Monte Video were soon in commotion. How- 
ever, the affair was easily explained ; but not without many 
a laugh at the absurdity of my little observatory (made of 
ninety small pieces of wood, so as to be stowed in a boat), hav- 
ing ' loomed' so large. Had our colours ever been displayed 
on shore, there might have been some foundation for their 
alarm ; but it so happened that the only flag that was on the 

« Monte Video, Octubre22 del833, 
*" El infrascripto Ministro Secretario de Estado en el departamentode 
Relaciones Exteriores, tiene orden del Gobierno para dirigirse al Sr. 
Consul General de S.M.B. y manifestarle, que a consecuencia de varies 
sucesos que han tenido lugar en la Isla de Gorriti, donde se halla la tri- 
pulacion de la Escuna de S.M. Adventure, los cuales constau de los 
documentos que en copia autorizada se acompauan ; y deseoso el Gobi- 
erno de satisfacer la ansiedad publica que han producido aquellos sucesos, 
y quitar todo pretexto de interpretaciones, espera que el Sr. Consul tendra 
a bien manifestarle los motivos que dieron merito a que los individuos 
pertenecientes a aquel Buque pasasen a la Isla, como igualmente las cau- 
sales de su permanencia en ella. 

" El Ministro que subscribe reitera al Sr. Cdnsul General de S.M.B. los 
sentimientos de su mayor consideracion y aprecio. 

(Firmado) " Francisco Llambi." 

" Monte Video, Octubre 28 de 1803. 

" El abajo firmado Consul General de S.M.B. cerca de la Repiiblica 

Oriental del Uruguay ha tenido el honor de transmitir al Sr. Fitz-Roy, 

comandante de la barca descubridora de S.M.B. Beagle, la comunicacion 

y copias 

294 CAUTION — MONTE VIDEO. Oct. — Dec.1833. 

island, at any time while our party was there, was an old Monte 
Video (Banda Oriental) ensign, which belonged to the schooner 
when I bought her from Mr. Low. This incident, trifling as it 
is, may be worth notice, as showing how necessary it is to 
be more circumspect and explanatory in every dealing with a 
small State, tlian in similar transactions with the Authorities of 
old established governments. 

The month of November was passed at Monte Video : lay- 
ing down chart- work, computing observations, and writing ; 
procuring and stowing provisions ; painting the vessels outside 
and blacking their rigging ; and occasionally giving the crews 
leave to go ashore. Mr. Darwin returned at the end of the 
month; and the first week in December both vessels sailed 
from the river : but before I go on with them to Tierra del 
Fuego and the Falklands, some pages shall be devoted to the 
proceedings of our enterprizing and hard-working labourers, 
who were employed so zealously during twelve months without 
intermission, in the little vessels Paz and Liebre. 

y copias inclusas que S. E. el Sr. D. Francisco Llambi, Ministro Secre- 
tario de Negocios Extrangeros le hiz6 el honor de dirigirle en 22 del 
corriente ; y el infrascripto se halla autorizado para decir que ni el 3 de 
Octubre, de 1833, ni otro dia alguno del presente aiio se ha enarbolado 
o desplegado en la Isla de Gorriti la Bandera de la nacion Britanica. EI 
3 de Octubre de 1833, y muchos dias anteriores, la de este Estado fu& 
izada como un senal para D. Francisco Aguilar, avisandole que se iva a 
embiar un bote en busca de came y comestibles. La casa de madera con 
vidriera que se dice ser habitada por el comandante, es un observatorio 
portatil hecho en Inglaterra, que ahora se halla en la Isla de Ratas de 
este Puerto ; y ninguno de los edificios de la Isla de Gorriti, ha sido repa- 
rado por persona alguna bajo las drdenes del Comandante Fitz-Roy : lo 
que el abajo firmado comunica a SE. saludandole con su particular consi- 
deracion y aprecio. 

(Firmado) " Tomas Samuel Hood." 


Paz and Liebre begin work — Chronometers — Fish — Animals — San 
Bias — Wrecks — River Negro — Del Carmen — Inhabitants — Indians — 
Trade — Williams drowned — Port Desire — Gale — Salinas — Lightning 
— Bones in Tomb — Trees — Dangers — New Bay — Cattle — Seals — Soil 
—River Chupat — Drift Timber — Fertility— Wild Cattle— V aides 
Creek — Imminent danger — Tide Races — Bar of the Negro — Hunting 
— Attack of Indians — Villarino — Falkner. 

The Paz and Liebre parted company with the Beagle on 
the 18th of October 1832, and commenced their undertaking 
by a cursory examination of the entrance to False Bay, Green 
Bay, and Brightman Inlet. Lieut. Wickham and Mr. King, 
with Roberts and four men, were in the Liebre.* Messrs. 
Stokes, Mellersh, and Forsyth, Avith Harris and five men, were 
on board the Paz.-f- While they were northward of the Colo- 
rado, true bearings of the Ventana Mountain, and observed 
latitudes, made them independent of their five chronometers ; 
but it was soon found that the rates of those useful machines 
were not injured even by the continual as well as sudden mo- 
tions of so small a vessel. They were bedded in sawdust, wool, 
and sand,:J: within a large tub, which was secured to the deck 
under the cabin table of the Paz, not far from the centre of 
least motion. 

In Brightman Inlet great quantities of fish were caught, 
by stopping up the mouths of small creeks with a net at high 
water, and when the tide ebbed many more were left ashore 
than were wanted. On Green Island they found good water by 
digging wells seven or eight feet deep. The island itself was 
overrun by deer and cavies : and on the main land the wild 
pig of the country ( javali) Avas seen. On the 23d they entered 
the river Colorado, but had much trouble in warping to a 
safe berth, on account of the water being very shoal at the 
entrance which they had chosen. The principal mouth was a 

* Nine tons burthen. t Fifteen tons. 

J Sawdust alone would have been better. 

296 WOLF — DEEK — DOGS. Oct. Nov. 

quarter of a mile further south, the stream being there " broad 
and rapid," with two fathoms water when the tide was out ; but 
beset, to seaward, by sandbanks, which shift with every south- 
east gale. Quantities of drift-wood, a kind of willow (sauci), 
lay about every where, indicating that the river sometimes 
overflowed its banks to a great distance, and brought down 
these trees from the interior country, as none grow within 
three leagues of the mouth. The river hereabouts is divided 
into many streams, forming a great number of small islands, 
which are nearly all of clay covered with rushes. From one of 
these streams or channels, the Canada, there are creeks commu- 
nicating at high- water with Union Bay. Here Lieut. Wick- 
ham's party saw a wolf. 

On the 27th they met a whale-boat (at Creek Island in Ane- 
gada Bay) from the River Negro, in search of sea-elephants. 
Next day they reached a snug creek in San Bias Bay, v;here 
they heard that the Indians had lately driven off all the cattle 
from the San Bias Estancia, had destroyed the houses, dis- 
mounted the guns, and broken the carriages. They were 
accompanied by a number of desperate criminals who had 
fled from justice at Buenos Ayres, and idle gauchos, who 
preferred robbery to work, and were unquestionably the most 
savage of the troop. On the 29th the Liebre was hauled ashore, 
to exti-act a piece of sauci wood that had run through her bot- 
tom : and a party was afterwards employed in erecting a conspi- 
cuous mark upon Hog Island; a very difficult task, because the 
loose sand, of which that island wholly consists, flies in clouds 
at every gust, and nowhere affords a solid foundation. By the 
help of casks filled with it, and spare anchors, they at length suc- 
ceeded in securing an old spar upright, which was large enough 
to be seen ten miles round, in that low half-drowned country. 

Deer were very numerous on Javali Island ; but on the place 
called Deer Island, there was not one, though they were so 
plentiful there a few years before. Some dogs had been left 
there by a whale-ship, which liave increased very much in 
numbers and are very savage : these dogs have exterminated 
the deer. 

Dec. 1832. san blas — wrecks. 297 

Any quantity of fresh water may be obtained in San Bias 
Bay, by digging wells six or eight feet deep ; and fish are 
abundant : but it is no place for a ship to enter unless under 
favourable circumstances of weather, wind, and tide ; and de- 
cidedly dangerous with a south-easter, because there is then a 
sea on the banks outside which confuses the pilot's eye, and 
prevents his distinguishing the proper channel ; besides which, 
thick weather, if not rain, is the general accompaniment to that 

On the 3d of December the Beagle anchored off San Bias 
(as formerly mentioned). Both schooners went out to her, and 
in returning at night into San Bias Bay, working to windward 
with a strong flood tide, they passed close to an unknown rock 
which would have made an end of their cruise had they touched 
it. The least water they had, however, was eight feet ;* but 
both vessels were close to it, while the tide was running four 
or five knots. This rock is in the middle of the entrance to 
San Bias Bay. At midnight they reached their anchorage, 
without a dry article in either vessel. 

On the 6th, Lieutenant Wickham remarked, while at anchor 
between San Bias and the River Negro, off Point Easa, that 
the stream of tide began to set northward at half flood, and 
continued to run in that direction until half ebb, by the shore. 
" It is not at all uncommon on this coast," he says, " to see 
wrecks of vessels above high- water mark, and spars strewed 
along the beach where the sea does not touch them." These 
wrecks took place during south-east gales, when the sea was 
raised above its usual level in fine weather : and were the 
vessels spoken of in the previous chapter, as having been 
entrusted to ignorant or careless prize-masters, who ran for San 
Bias or the River Negro, not then knowing that so fine a 
port as Blanco Bay existed. Strong tides, shoals, a low coast, 
and bad weather would have perplexed professed seamen ; 
but those difficulties were insurmountable to such unpractised 
craftsmen as those who were in charge of them, and most of 
the prizes wei'e lost. One large ship of four or five hundred 

* The Paz drew five feet and a half, the Liebre four feet. 


tons was taken, by a wiser master, to Port Melo, and there 
her carso was discharged into small craft, which landed it 
safely in the River Negro. Many of these ill-fated vessels were 
never afterwards heard of ; but from the numerous wrecks seen 
along the coast between the Colorado and the Negro, it may 
be inferred that they and their unfortunate crews perished in 
the surf occasioned by south-east gales, or were capsized by 
sudden pamperoes. 

Running up the River Negro (on the 7th December), Lieut. 
Wickham found the 'freshes'* strongly against him. The 
banks of the river afforded a pleasing contrast, by their ver- 
dure, to the arid desert around Anegada Bay. Most part of 
these banks was cultivated, and great quantities of fine corn 
was seen growing. Here and there were country houses (quin- 
tas) surrounded by gardens, in which apple, fig, walnut, 
cherry, quince, and peach trees, vines, and vegetables of most 
kinds were abundantly plentiful. 

Althouffh the banks of the river are so fit for cultivation, 
it is only in consequence of floods, which take place twice 
a-year — once during the rainy season of the interior, and once 
at the time when the snow melts on the Cordillera. These 
floods swell the river several feet above its banks, bringing a 
deposit of mud and decayed vegetable matter, which enriches 
the soil and keeps it moist even during the long droughts of 
that climate. 

The plough used there is wooden, and generally worked by 
oxen, but it does not cut deeply. Manure is never used, the 
soil being so fattened by alluvial deposits. 

The town of Nuestra Seiiora del Carmen, is about six leagues 
up the river, on its northern bank, upon a slightly-rising ground 
about forty feet above the water. It is irregularly built : the 
houses are small, one only having two stories ; and glass win- 
dows are seldom seen : each house has a large oven. A square 
enclosure of some extent, formed by walls of unbaked bricks 
(adobes), is called the fort, and within it are the church, the 

* Showing that this was the period of one of the two floods to which 
the Negro is annually subject. 

1832. TOWN OF DEL CARMEN. 299 

governor"'s house, lodgings for the officers, and public stores. 
This fort commands the neighbourhood, as well as the houses 
(or cottages) surrounding it ; and of the hundred buildings 
which compose the town of Carmen, exclusive of about thirty 
huts on the south bank of the river, the fort is the oldest. 
It was built about 1763. Some houses, forty years old, are as 
fresh in outward appearance, as if built only a few years ago. 
In a population of 1,400, there are about 500 negroes. Alto- 
gether there may be in the town about two thousand inhabi- 
tants, but many of the poorer famiUes and negroes live in 
caves, which were dug out of cliffs on the river's bank by the 
first Spanish settlers. It is said that they served the Spaniards 
as a secure refuge from the Indians, who could only approach 
them by one path, easily secured. These caves, dug out of 
earthy clay, are not despicable dwellings, while there is a fire 
in them to expel damp. 

About a league from the entrance of the river are the ruins 
of a large house, which was the " Estancia del Rey." In 
former days 100,000 head of cattle were attached to that esta- 
blishment, now there is not even a calf. 

Some of the first settlers were living at Carmen in 1833, 
staunch royalists, every one looking back with regret to former 
times. One of them belonged to the crew of the Spanish launch 
that first entered the river. He said, that the Indians were then 
living in detached tribes along both banks of the river, and were 
very friendly to the Spaniards. This same old man afterwards 
made one of the exploring party, under Villarino, in 1786, 
when the natives were not only inoffensive, but gave them 
assistance. How different from the present day ! when if a 
Christian is seen by the natives, he is immediately hunted, and 
his safety depends upon the fleetness of his horse. It has 
sometimes happened, that persons riding along near this river, 
have been surprized by a marauding party of Indians, and 
obliged, as their only resource, to leap off the banks (barran- 
cas), whether high or low, and swim across to the other side. 
The Indians have never followed ; hence this, though requiring 
resolution, is a sure mode of escape. 


Prior to the conclusion of the war between Brazil and Bue- 
nos Ayres (1828), the settlers at Carmen lived tranquilly — 
undisturbed by Indian aggression (retaliation ?) but since that 
time, they have been kept in continual alarm. Prisoners are 
often brought to Carmen to be ransomed, whom the Indians 
have taken from other places. They are generally women or 
children ; and as the Indians often find out who their prisoners 
are, the ransoms asked are proportionably exorbitant. Men are 
usually put to death, if they do not die of their wounds. There 
is a tribe of friendly Indians living near Carmen, at the out- 
skirts of the town, who do much hard work for the inhabitants 
for very trifling remuneration ; but they are shamefully abused, 
cheated in every way by shopkeepers and liquor -venders, and 
harshly treated by other persons, who seem to consider them 
inferior beings — unworthy of any kind or humane considera- 
tion. Should one of these poor creatures fall by the knife of a 
passionate white man, no notice is taken of it by the authorities ; 
the murderer boasts of his deed, and the poor relations suffer 
patiently the loss and the insult, which they dare not avenge. 
Having quitted the free tribes, seduced by promises never 
fulfilled, they would not be received among them again ; and 
their own numbers, originally small, are reduced daily by 
disease and abominable drugs, which the publicans sell them 
in what is said to be spirituous liquor (agua ardiente). 
Mr. Wickham saw a poor Indian woman, between forty 
and fifty years of age, almost killed by a blow on the head 
from an ox's skull (with the horns), given by a wretch, who 
had drawn his knife upon her husband for preventing his 
kissing a pretty girl, their daughter, who was walking with her. 
This scoundrel was seen by Mr. Wickham, a few days after- 
wards, betting at the race-course with the principal people of 
the place. 

Thanks to the influence of Harris and Roberts, and their 
connections (both being married to daughters of Spanish 
settlers), our officers and men were exceedingly well treated. 
Every door was open to them ; and the fruit in every garden 
was freely, as well as sincerely offered. Letters had been for- 


warded to the commandant or governor, from Buenos Ayres, 
desiring that we might have every facility and freedom in our 
operations ; but the disposition towards us was such, that 
those letters were not required. 

From the remains of former buildings, and accounts of the 
old men, Lieutenant Wickham thought that the Spanish settlers 
must have been far more industrious and ingenious than their 
Creole descendants, who are idle, indolent, and ignorant. The 
height of their ambition is to make a show at the Sunday races, 
where they deceive, drink, wrangle, gamble, and quarrel. 
These Sabbath occupations are always attended by the female 
part of the population, who take that opportunity of displaying 
their finery ; and though seated upon handkerchiefs on the 
sandy ground, without any defence from sun, wind, dust, or 
rain, every damsel displays silk stockings and a gaudy dress 
upon these occasions. The men do not go near them, notwith- 
standing their attire : they can beat a poor woman almost to 
death, upon occasion ; but they cannot defer a bet, or risk 
losing a dollar, for the sake of female society. 

The climate is so healthy, that illness of any kind is scarcely 
known ; and the inhabitants, in general, live to a good old 
age. There is a stirring trade carried on in small vessels, be- 
tween Buenos Ayres and this place. Salt, of excellent quality, 
hides, peltry, seal or sea-elephant oil, and skins, are the prin- 
cipal exports, in return for which are received manufactures, 
sugar, spirits, tobacco, &c. 

The Indians, who live at the outskirts of the town in ' tol- 
dos,' which are neither wind nor water-tight, load vessels with 
salt ; but the price of their labour is usually spent in some 
kind of spirituous liquor, which is made and drugged expressly 
for them — the publicans often saying, " that it is a sin to give 
an Indian good spirits." When drunk, the howling of these 
poor wretches is quite frightful. Some of them are almost 
skeletons — the result, probably, of drinking. 

Some leagues up the river coal is obtained, I was informed, 
but I did not see a specimen myself. Probably Mr. Darwin 
had an opportunity of examining its quality. 

302 CORPORAL WILLIAMS. Dec. 1 832. 

On the 12th, Lieutenant Wickham sailed for Blanco Bay, 
to deliver some letters from me (which I had received from 
Buenos Ayres) to the commandant Rodriguez. 

13th. Off the banks in Anegada Bay there was too much sea 
(during a S.W. gale) for the Liebre to keep on her course 
any longer, having run as long as was prudent, and already 
shipped several seas. When hove-to, under a balance-reefed 
foresail, with the tiller unshipped, she was dry and easy, and 
lay about five points from the wind. 

Mr. Wickham arrived at Argentina on the 16th, and left it 
on the following day. In sailing out of Blanco Bay, along the 
south shore, while it was dark, the Liebre grounded frequently ; 
but her crew got overboard, and hauled her over the banks as 
often as she was stopped by them, and at midnight she was at 
sea. A south-east gale on the 18th drove her into the Colo- 
rado, where Lieutenant Wickham found a strong outset, owing 
to the ' freshes,' even during the flood-tide. 

On the 22d, the Liebre entered the river again, and anchored 
near Carmen. 

At daylight on the 24th, Corporal Williams was missed, 
supposed to have fallen overboard in the night, while asleep. 
He slept on deck sometimes, when tormented by musquitoes ; 
and as the Liebre's weather-cloth rail was but a few inches above 
the deck, he might possibly have rolled overboard into the 
stream, which would immediately have carried him away. His 
body was found, about three miles down the river, at sun-set 
the next evening (Christmas day). The governor (though a 
Roman catholic) allowed the burial to take place in the con- 
secrated ground of the church, and the curate himself was 

While the Liebre was absent, Mr. Stokes, in the Paz, sur- 
veyed many miles of the river, as well as the bar. No vessel 
drawino' more than eleven feet water can enter without much 
danger : if at a favourable time any person should be induced 
to risk crossing the bar with a ship of greater draught, he 
should bear in mind that it is much more difficult to get to sea 
than it is to enter, because wind which is fair for approach- 

Jan. 1833. port desire — gale. 303 

ing, raises the water ; and the reverse. Although ships drawing 
fourteen feet have passed the bar, at unusually favourable 
times, others of only ten feet draught have been detained forty 
days in the river. 

29th. Both our little vessels sailed, and on the 4th of Janu- 
ary they anchored safely in Port Desire : — this was a bold 
stroke, but success attended it. They were thus placed at the 
southernmost point of the coast they were to survey, while the 
sun was farthest south ; and as the days shortened, they would 
work along the coast northward. Recent traces of Indians were 
found ; and the master of an American sealer told Mr. Wick- 
ham that they had been there in considerable numbers, about 
two months previously. The wells were all full ; therefore 
much rain must have fallen during October, November, or 
December. I have mentioned elsewhere that although the 
eastern coast of Patagonia is usually an arid desert, there 
are periodical times, of short duration, at which rain falls 

11th. Having rated their chronometers, the little vessels 
stood out to sea, in company with the North American sealer ; 
but they had not sailed many miles before the wind increased 
to a gale, and still becoming stronger, bringing clouds of dust 
and sand off the land, they were reduced to bare poles, and 
drifted fast off-shore, as well as northward. When the fury of 
the gale was over, their balance-reefed foresails were set, and 
with their tillers unshipped they made very good weather, until 
they were driven near the tide-races off Cape Blanco, where 
some anxious hours were passed, half-buried in foam, and the 
wind again almost a hurricane. Towards evening, the storm 
abated ; our water-soaked explorers succeeded in regaining 
a position under shelter of the land ; and anchored next morn, 
ing under Cape Blanco, to dry themselves and take observa- 
tions. In this severe gale, the North American schooner 
split two close-reefed foresails, lost a boat, and was otherwise 

Lieutenant Wickham and Mr. Mellersh walked a long way 

304 SALINAS LIGHTNING. Jan. 1833. 

from Cape Blanco, to trace the coast, and look out for shoals 
in the offing ; in doing which, they found numerous ' Sali- 
nas' (extensive hollow places filled with salt), where the soHd 
mass of very white and good salt was several feet in thickness. 
Guanacoes were numerous, hut shy. On the rocks some fur- 
seal were seen ; too few, however, to be worth a sealer's notice. 
The following week was passed in examining St. George Bay. 
Scarcely any stream of tide was found in its western part, 
though the rise amounted to nearly twenty feet. About 
Tilly road, where they landed, the mass or principal part of 
the soil, where visible in cliffs or ravines, is loose sandy clay 
(diluvium), with immense quantities of large fossil oyster shells 
imbedded in it. These shells were found every where, even on 
summits seven or eight hundred feet above the sea, and some 
of them weighed eight pounds, 

A place honoured by the Spaniards with the name of Malas- 
pina, and described as a port, was found to be a wretched cove, 
fuU of rocks, hardly safe even for the Liebre. While moored 
there, our party witnessed lightning set fire to bushes and 
grass. The flames spread rapidly, and for two days, the face 
of the country continued to blaze. Near Port Arredondo, Mr. 
Wickham went to the tops of several hills ; he found the coun- 
try unproductive, except of a few bushes, and yellow wiry 
grass. There were no traces of natives. Very heavy rain fell 
during the night of the 28th. I mention it thus particularly, 
because some persons have said that rain never falls on the east 
coast of Patagonia, in any quantity. 

The cove called ' Oven' is a singular place, being a parting 
(as it were) in the solid rock, nearly a mile in length, but very 
narrow, with four fathoms water in it at low tide. Surrounded 
on all sides by precipitous hills, it is, indeed, an oven ; and 
would injure a ship seriously, even more than other ports 
on this arid coast, if she were to lie long in it ; as her seams 
would all be opened, and her planks split by the heat and 
drought. The water found here was so strongly impregnated 
with salt-petre, that it was not drinkable ; but probably better 

Feb. 1833. indiax tombs — port santa elena. 305 

might have been procured had they dug fresh wells. On the 
summit of South Cape an Indian tomb was found. The stones 
had been displaced, and some bones were lying about, a few 
of wliich were taken on board, but none could be got in a 
perfect state. Mr. Bynoe afterwards examined them, and 
informed me that they had belonged to a female of small 

Off Ship Island, and thence to Cape Dos Bahias, the tide- 
stream was again felt strongly, running two, three, or, in some 
places, four knots an hour. At a little creek, in Camarones 
Bay, near Cape Dos Bahias, abundance of small wood, fit for 
fuel, was found ; and plenty of fresh water in hollows of the 
rocks. A guanaco was shot, which weighed upwards of two 
hundred pounds. Not only is small wood plentiful about Cama- 
rones Bay, but the country is sufficiently covered with grass of 
good quality. Several Indian tombs were seen on the hills, 
whence it may be inferred that natives at times frequent the 
neighbourhood, although no recent traces were met with by our 
party. Unfortunately, not one of these tombs, simply irre- 
gular piles of stones, was found in an undisturbed state, nei- 
ther were any more bones discovered : they are all similarly 
situated upon the most conspicuous, smooth, and round-topped 

At Port Santa Elena many tons of excellent water were pro- 
cured from hollows in the rocks, (7th Feb.) Approaches to trees 
were found at this place, which though stunted as to height, 
much like thorn-trees in exposed situations, were of respectable 
dimensions. One measured more than three feet round the 
trunk, but its fellow was not seen. 

After dusk, on the 10th, while endeavouring to enter New 
Bay, with a fresh wind and strong flood-tide, the Liebre got 
into a ' race,' and was hustled within a fathom of a rock, over 
which the tide was boiling furiously. Fortunately, the Paz 
saw the Liebre alter course and make more sail, and by imme- 

* I gave them to Sir Francis Chantrty, by whom they were shown to 
several persons. 



diately following her example, avoided the danger. They then 
hauled ofF, and passed the night at sea. 

Next day (11th), they stood towards the bay again, the 
wind increasing fast, till it blew a gale from W.S.W., which 
being against a flood-tide stream, running at the rate of four 
knots through the entrance, raised a short hollow sea, dan- 
gerous for small craft. Battening down the hatches securely, 
and close-reefing, the little vessels worked through gallantly, 
though frequently obliged to lower their sails in squalls, or as 
they dived into a sea heavier than usual. The tide soon swept 
them beyond the narrow part, and then they were compara- 
tively in safety. 

Part of the west shores of New Bay seemed to be fit for cul- 
tivation, being covered with a fine dark soil ; and there is 
abundance of fire-wood. Some small ponds of excellent water 
were found, over a clayey bed, in which were tracks of cattle. 
A guanaco shot here was superior to any killed elsewhere, as to 
condition. Many thousand seals were seen on the rocks, which 
did not take to the water as soon as disturbed — therefore they 
could not have been much molested by man. 

On the 24th, Lieutenant AVickham discovered the river 
Chupat, and after waiting for the tide, anchored half a mile 
within the entrance. Next day he went a few miles up it in a 
boat, and found that, though free from drift-timber, it was 
shoal and narrow, few places being deeper than six feet at low- 
water, or wider than a hundred yards. The stream ran down 
two or three knots an hour. Many tracks of cattle were seen, 
but none of natives. As the river seemed to be free from sunken 
trees, and to have but few banks in it, Mr. Wickham decided 
to move the Liebre as far up as he could, and then make 
another excursion in his little two-oared skiff. Between 
pulling* and sailing, the Liebre was moved twelve miles up 
in one day, and was moored in the middle of the stream, lest 
Indians should be near. 

Next morning, Mr. Wickham went in his boat, about eight 

* Both the vessels had oars. 

1S23. ItlCH SOIL CATTLE. 307 

miles further ; but in a direct line he was then not more than 
twelve miles from the entrance. Along the banks on each 
side, as he had advanced, both he and those with him, were 
much struck by the richness of the alluvial land (caused doubt- 
less by the river overflowing its low banks), and by the quan- 
tities of drift-timber, which actually looked like the stores in 
immense timber-yards. Among the drift-wood there were many 
large and sound trees left several hundred yards from the 
banks, therefore the periodical floods must be great. 

At Mr. Wickham's westernmost point "the river, and the 
country round had a beautiful appearance, as seen from a 
rising ground on the south side — an excellent position for a 
settlement." From this elevation the stream was traced to the 
westward, running with a very serpentine course, through 
level meadow land, covered with rich herbage. Several herds 
of wild cattle were seen, and their traces were observed every 
where in such numbers as to indicate a great abundance of 

Mr. Wickham returned on the 26th to the entrance, and 
found that a store of fish had been salted by the cook, while 
Mr. Stokes and others were going about, surveying the neigh- 
bourhood. These fish were a kind of bass, nearly as good as 

I have no doubt that this is a river whose existence has 
been many years known by Spaniards, but of which the situa- 
tion was intentionally concealed, on account of the lucrative 
trade some individuals hoped to carry on by means of hides 
and tallow obtained from the herds of wild cattle. The Spa- 
niards used to anchor their vessels in Port San Jose, and 
thence ride in large parties to the Chupat ; there they sur- 
rounded numbers of cattle, and drove them across the peninsula 
between San Jose and New Bay, where they slaughtered them 
at leisure. Numbers were probably killed nearer the river ; 
but all that could be driven, had doubtless the privilege of 
conveying their own hides to the neighbourhood of their hun- 
ters' ships. There was still living at the River Negro (in 1833) 
an old man, who was one of the few individuals that escaped 



during a dreadful massacre of Spanish settlers at Port San 
Jose. He said that the Indians were jealous of their encroach- 
ments, and seized an opportunity, while the Spaniards were 
attending the performance of mass, to fall upon them, and 
indiscriminately slay all, except three or four who were taken 
alive and kept as slaves. 

That the Spaniards should have chosen San Jose for the 
place of their settlement instead of New Bay, or the Chupat 
itself, is easily accounted for, by mentioning that small vessels 
can generally run from the River Negro to Port San Jose 
without much risk and in a short time, whereas there are 
strong tides and dangerous ' races' off the peninsula of San 
Jose, and the entrance of the Chupat will not admit a vessel 
drawing more tlian seven feet : even this only at high-water. I 
think that the Chupat is the river alluded to by Falkner, 
as being in the " country of Chulilaw." * He was told that 
it traversed the continent as far as the Andes, and judging 
from the drift-timber, as well as volcanic scoriae brought down 
by it, there is ground for thinking that the Chupatf rises in the 
Cordillera. There is also reason to suppose that the river de- 
scribed and placed variously by different geographers, under 
the name of Camarones, is this Chupat, chiefly because the 
Indians who frequent the country bordering upon the south 
bank of the Negro, say that there is no river of consequence 
between that and the Santa Cruz, excepting the Chupat. 

With this river so near at hand, the west side of New Bay 
would be an excellent situation for a settlement. There ships 
of any burthen might anchor in safety, and a communication be 
carried on with the interior by means of flat-bottomed boats, 
or barges, so constructed as to admit of being towed, or tracked, 
in the river, and capable of running up to New Bay before a 
fair wind. In the River Negro similar boats go a long way up 
the river for salt ; they are towed by horses or oxen ; and such 
vessels, even of thirty tons bvirthen, might enter the Chupat, 
if constructed so as to draw but little water. I need not dwell 
upon the possible advantages to be derived from opening a 
* Falkner, p. 87. t Chupat is the Indian name. 


1833. VALDES CREEK — TIDES. 309 

communication across the continent with Chiloe, which misht 
be a means of diffusing Christianity, civilization, and commer- 
cial intercourse. 

On the 3d, Lieut. Wickham and his party left the Chupat. 
Early on the 5th they entered Valdes Creek (by the Spaniards 
styled ' port'), with the flood tide running nearly six knots 
into the narrow entrance : and on its shores found heaps of 
horns and bones, besides the wreck of a vessel.* These were 
indications of one of the temporary settlements maintained on 
the peninsula of San Jose for the purpose of obtaining hides. 
The carcases of the animals were invariably left to decay ; a 
few deUcate portions only being selected for food. 

Until the 12th our little vessels were unable to quit this 
singular place, for the ebb tide set so strongly against the swell 
outside, raised by a S.E. gale, that they could not attempt to 
cross the bar. Sometimes the very narrow entrance of Valdes 
Creek is almost stopped up for a time by shingle and sand, 
after a S.E. gale has been blowing for a few days, therefore at 
such a time no vessel ought to run for it. 

During the war between Brazil and Buenos Ayres (1825-9), 
Mr. Adams, of Carmen, was master of a merchant vessel 
hired by Vernet to convey settlers to the Falkland Islands. In 
returning thence, short of water and provisions, he thought to 
put into Valdes Creek, knowing that some people were there 
employed in collecting hides. He ran in for the land, with a 
fresh S.E. wand, and did not discover, until almost too late, 
that the bar was not passable. W^hen close in he peixeived a 
heavy sea breaking at the entrance, where he expected smooth 
water, and directly hauled off; but it was only by carrying a 
heavy press of sail that he cleared the land ; and at the expense 
of passing through ' races,' which tore off the vessel's bulwarks 
and otherwise damaged her materially. As our cock-boats 
crossed this bar, they had ten feet water, but on each side of it 
there were five fathoms. The Liebre, sharp built, plunged into 
each short swell ; while the Paz, with her bluff bow, did not 

* Of about two hundred tons burthen. 


take in a single sea. The bar is a continuation of the long 
shingle spit, or bank, which forms the seaward side of the 
harbour ; and is about nine miles long, though in some places 
not a hundred yards broad. 

Towards noon the wind fell light, and the vessels were 
swept by a strong tide-stream towards a ' race,' whose noise 
might have appalled the crews of much larger and stouter 
barks. No bottom could be struck with the deep-sea lead, and 
no efforts of the crews at the oars had much effect in arresting 
their progress towards apparently inevitable destruction. Even 
at this awful time, habitual familiarity with danger, and zeal 
for the service,- shewed their effects strongly in Mr. Stokes, 
who eagerly watched for the sun's meridian altitude, with 
his sextant to his eye, while every now and then he caught a 
hasty glimpse of the foaming and roaring race towards which 
the little craft were fast approaching. At this crisis a breeze 
sprung up which just enabled them to pass clear ; but no 
one who was in those vessels can ever forget that day, neither 
do I think they attribute their preservation to blind chance. 
Sailors see too many of these ' chances' to think of or reflect 
upon them lightly, and those who have had experience are not 
wont to forget, that to direct and to preserve are among the 
least efforts of Omnipotence — so far, at least, as our limited 
intelligence enables us to discern. 

At five that afternoon the Paz and Liebre were about eigh- 
teen miles offshore, out of soundings with their lead-lines, and 
yet were only a mile and half from the eastern part of the 
race ; therefore they still stood to seaward, to get as far as pos- 
sible from a neigh boui'hood so dangerous at any time, but 
especially so at night. For two hours they passed through a 
rippling, but could strike no soundings with sixty fathoms of 

In 1830 Mr. Harris (owner of the Paz) sailed from the River 
Negro in a vessel of about ninety tons, with some horses on 
board, which he had engaged to convey to a party of gauchoes 
who were employed on the peninsula of San Jose, in killing 
cattle for their hides. Within the Bay of San Matias, about six 

1833. ' races' SAN JOSE. 311 

leagues N.W. of the port (San Jose), he got into one of these 
races, '^ and could not extricate his vessel. No soundings could 
be obtained : the sails were useless in consequence of the vio- 
lent motion and want of wind, where the water was breaking so 
furiously, though elsewhere a fresh breeze was blowing ; and 
nothing could be done. The crew took to the rigging, to avoid 
being washed overboard; and for almost three hours they 
were tossed about, like an empty bottle in a ripple, before the 
race abated, with the turn of tide, so as to admit of their 
sails acting enough to draw them a-head out of the commo- 
tion. The vessel, though a strong one, was so much shaken and 
damaged, the horses so much injured, and all hands so much 
' scared,' as Harris honestly told me, that he steered back 
direct for the Negro, forfeited his agreement, and refused to go 

On the 14th March the Paz and Liebre again crossed 
the bar of the River Negro, and next day they anchored 
a-breast of the town (Carmen). Lieut. Wickham found that 
an expedition had been sent from Buenos Ayres for the pur- 
pose of obliging the Indians to retire beyond (southward of) 
the Negro ; and, if possible, deprive them of their horses. 
Bad weather and a heavy sea on the bar, caused by south-east 
gales, prevented the Paz and Liebre from sailing again until 
the 11th of April, when they went to Port San Antonio, and 
afterwards into Port San Jose. Plenty of firewood, and abun- 
dance of fish, were found at San Antonio ; but no fresh water, 
except by digging wells. The tide-stream rushes into and out 
of Port San Jose in a violent manner, especially when opposed 
by wind ; but after the narrow part of the entrance is passed, 
all agitation of the water ceases, except what may be caused by 
wind. It is a barren and desolate place, without wood or fresh 
water, and too large for a harbour. Our party saw proof of 
this assertion in the wreck of a small vessel at the north-east 
part of the port, which had been driven from her anchors and 

• The tide-races within the bay are less formidable than those off Point 
Norte, near which our vessels were. 


totally lost, though she was lying in a land-locked bay, or 
rather gulf. 

On the 6th of May, while returning from San Jose to the 
River Negro, our little vessels got into a ripple, which did not 
break, but had almost the appearance of a whirlpool. There was 
a hollow short swell, and an irregular motion in every direction, 
exactly like the boiling of a pot, on a great scale. Here again 
they could touch no bottom with fifty fathoms of line and a 
heavy lead. These races and ripplings in such deep water, 
about the peninsula of San Jose, are very remarkable ; chiefly 
because there are none such on any other part of the coast. 
They will be recurred to in a future page of this volume. 

May 7th. The Paz and Liebre returned to the Negro, but 
could not reach an anchorage off" Carmen until late the next 
day, owing to the ' freshes.' * The next occupation for our 
party was examining and sounding the entrance and bar of the 
Negro, a task purposely deferred, as being of minor conse- 
quence. The mouth of a rapid river like this, subject to 
floods, and disemboguing at a place exposed to the full force 
of such a heavy sea as is raised on that coast by a south-east gale, 
must be frequently changed, as to the detail of its shoals and 
channels ; therefore no plan, however exact at one time, can be 
depended upon after the lapse of a few years ; and no vessel 
larger than a boat would be justified in attempting to enter 
without a local pilot, if one can be obtained. In one spot, near 
Main Point, where a small battery stood in 1826, there were 
two fathoms water in 1833 ; and within the same period the 
deepest water for a few miles within the entrance, changed gra- 
dually from the south side to the north. Mr. Darwin was told 
that the river was called Negro after a cacique of that name ; 
but Falkner asserts that it was so called by the Spaniards, be- 
cause the aborigines knew it by the name of ' Cusu Leuvu,"* 
which means black river. -}* 

* There are two floods annually : one about December or January, 
caused by snow melted on the Cordillera; and the other about May or 
June, occasioned by heavy rains in the interior country. These inun- 
dations are very variable. t Falkner, p. 79. 


In May, June, July, and August, the neighbourhood of this 
river swarms with wild fowl, which migrate from the south, 
for the winter, and return there to breed about September. 
The old people foretell a severe winter when they arrive early, 
and in greater numbers than usual. In 1833-4 they formed 
the staple article of food for the inhabitants of Carmen during 
the winter, as the Indians had deprived them of their cattle ; in 
the summer cavies and ostriches supplied their tables. Hunt- 
ing is a favourite amusement of the Carmenites. They sally 
forth in large parties on horseback, attended by a motley 
crowd of dogs, inclose a large extent of country, contract 
the circle gradually,* and at last drive a great number of 
ostriches, wolves, cavies, deer, foxes, and pumas, into a com- 
paratively small space, when the indiscriminate attack com- 
mences — balls and lassoes flying in every direction. Many 
accidents happen to the horses in these hunts, owing to the 
ground being so undermined, in some places, by the ' tucu- 
tucu,'"!" a little animal like a small rabbit ; but the riders are 
so skilful, that they generally save themselves, however awk- 
wardly their horses may fall. Pumas are an especial object of 
attack, not only for the risk attached to encountering them, 
but because they do so much damage to the young animals of 
all kinds : they have a peculiar method of instantly killing a 
young colt by breaking its neck with an adroit blow of one 
paw, vfhile the poor creature is held fast between the other and 
a most formidably ai'med mouth. In 1779 there were nume- 
rous herds of cattle and horses near the town of Carmen, but 
incursions of the Indians have diminished them to but few. 

During the time of the old Spaniards, after 1783, more than a 
thousand Indians attacked the settlement at one time. The in- 
habitants retreated to their caves,;!: where, defended by strong 
doors, with loop-holes for musketry, they were safe ; but their 

* As in eastern countries. 

t This Indian name, gutturally pronounced, expresses the curious 
sound made by these creatures while under ground — a noise somewhat 
like the blow of a distant hammer. 

J Mentioned in p, 299. 


houses were ransacked and burned, and all their animals driven 
away. Since that time the frequent predatory excursions of 
minor parties of Indians have prevented the settlers from again 
attempting to collect animals in large numbers, seeing that they 
would assuredly tempt the aborigines to repeat their attacks on 
a greater scale than ever. The old man, who was one of Vil- 
larino's party,* gave Mr. Darwin some information about that 
expedition, which entirely corroborates the interesting account 
of Basilio Villarino himself, who made his way, by excellent 
management, and extreme perseverance, to the foot of the 
Cordillera, though surrounded by Indians suspicious of his 
intentions. He managed so dexterously as to make one tribe 
become his firm friends and assistants ; and behaved so well 
himself, in his own enterprises, as well as in his conduct to 
those under him, as to have obtained their hearty co-operation 
during eight long months. But he was soon afterwards savagely 
murdered by the natives during another exploring expedition.-f- 
The old man said that ViUarino was much guided by the 
account of an Englishman,^ whose description of the river and 
Indian country was found to be very accurate. Mr. Darwin 
heard several anecdotes of the Indians, and their attacks upon 
the Christians (so they term aU white men) which interested me 
very much ; but as I suppose they will be found in liis volume, 
it is unnecessary here to do more than allude to them. 

On the 12th May Mr.Usborne, in the Constitucion, anchored 
in the river, and next day put himself under Mr. Stokes's orders; 
to whom Lieut. Wickham gave up the charge of this branch of 
the survey, and then went on board the Constitucion to hasten 
towards Maldonado. On the 17th all three Uttle vessels sailed, 
Lieut. Wickham steering for the Plata, and Mr. Stokes for 
San Bias. 

From this time till the Paz and Liebre were discharged, in 

* Bo^vman of his boat (lancha). 

t Sir Woodbine Parish has given an abridged translation of Villarino's 
Diary in the Journal of the R. Geogr. Society for 1836, vol. vi, part ii, 
pp.136 — 167. J Falkner evidently. 

1833. MK. STOKES's PARTY. 315 

August,* Mr. Stokes and his party were most zealously occu- 
pied between the Negro and Blanco Bay ; but time was too 
fully occupied in the uninteresting, though useful works, of 
sounding, measuring, observing, and chart-making, to admit 
of many notices of the country being obtained in addition to 
those already mentioned ; indeed the nature of the coast, almost 
flat, uninhabited, without trees, and fronted by extensive sand- 
banks, precluded the possibility of acquiring much information 
not of a technical nature. 

* Already mentioned, p. 288. 


Beagle and Adventure sail from Monte Video— Port Desire — Bellaco 
Rock — Refraction — Port San Julian — Viedma — Drake — Magalhaens 
' — Patagonians — Port Famine — San Sebastian Bay — VVoollya — Jemmy 
— Story — Treachery— Oens-men — Improvement — Gratitude — Falk- 

lands — Events Captain Seymonr — Search for Murderers — Lieutenant 

Smith — Brisbane — Wreck — SuiFerings — Lieutenant Clive — Sail from 

Dec. 6th, 1833. With a supply of provisions and coals,* 
sufficient for at least nine months, the Beagle and her tender 
sailed together from Monte yideo. 

We first touched at Port Desire (23d Dec), and after 
passing a very cheerful Christmas-day ,-f- and exploring the 
inlet to its extremity, the Adventure was left to complete 
some alterations in her masts and rigging, while the Beagle 
would survey the coast between Sea Bear Bay and Port San 

The party who went up the inlet were much struck by the 
wildness and height]: of the rocky cliffs which they saw on 
each side of what appeared to have been the bed of a former 
river ; but could go no further with the yawl than I had been 
in 1829- This I had foreseen, and therefore Mr. Chaffers, who 
was in charge of the party, took with him a small dinghy, in 
which he went on after the yawl was stopped by the mud. 
Having proceeded two miles further, the prospect changed 
suddenly ; instead of wild glens and precipitous heights of 
porphyritic rock, low flat banks were seen, covered with rushes 
near the water, and, further from the stream, with luxuriant 
pasture. It was almost high water when the dinghy reached 
this spot and entered a fresh water river about a hundred 

* Wood and water being easily procured in the regions we were going 
to visit, we carried only a month's store of those essentials. 

t After noon on the 25th, both crews amused themselves on shore in 
wrestling, racing, jumping, and various games. 

J About three hundred feet. 

"TS'^i'm'^i u'lmr^i' ^^^wf" 

w'uiM<£ Aiu ViKlS iHJLl^^siiu) &iF ihtfliu^U l£l£KUUKlC URGr.S'u' 

Pubfishfid 'by Ucnry Colbum Gresa "tfajtrboroxigli S^recL ;8i& 

Dec.1833. iuver--rock at port desire. 317 

yards wide, but so shallow that there was only three feet water 
in the middle. The river narrowed considerably as they 
ascended, till at the spot where Mr. Chaffers stopped to take 
sights of the sun, the stream was but forty yards across. In 
that place the deepest water was three feet at the top of high 
tide, over a gravelly bottom ; but from the level space between 
the stream and the foot of the nearest hills, about three quarters 
of a mile, there was reason for supposing that during floods 
all the valley might be inundated. From a neighbouring hill, 
four himdred feet in height, the river could be traced several 
miles further, making a distance of about eight miles seen by 
our party, in which the water was quite fresh. It was lost to 
the westward, winding along an irregular break, or clifF-bounded 
valley, in the distant hills. The only living creature seen, of 
any size, was a lame horse, feeding near the river. There were 
no traces whatever of Indians. Having hastened back with 
the little boat before the river dried* (at half-ebb), Mr. 
Chaffers ascended another hill ; but saw little more excepting 
an appearance of water to the southward, about which he could 
not clearly distinguish whether it was a lake, part of a river, 
or a salt-pond. I have no doubt, that during particular sea- 
sons a large body of fresh water is brought down this valley, 
but I do not think the river rises near the Andes, because there 
is no drift-wood on its banks, and the Indians say nothing of 
it when enumerating the rivers which cross the continent. 

Jan. 4th, 1834. In working out of Port Desire, the Beagle 
struck her fore-foot heavily against a rock, so as to shake her 
fore and aft ; but on she went with the tide, and as she 
made no water, I did not think it worth while returning into 
port. I was instantly convinced that we had hit the very rock 
on which the Beagle struck in 1829, in the night — a danger 
we never again could find by daylight till this day, when I 
was, rather imprudently, going out with the last quarter-ebb. 

* The tide fell more than fourteen feet perpendicularly ; but a small 
brook remained, perhaps a foot de&p, winding its course between the 
uncovered banks. 


At low-water there are but eight feet on this rock, which is not 
far from mid-channel, just without the entrance. 

We anchored near Watchman Cape, and in other places 
along the coast, before reaching Port San Julian, and some 
time was devoted to an examination of the BeUaco Rock and 
its vicinity, as there is a dangerous reef extending from Watch- 
man Cape towards, but not quite out to the Bellaco. 

In my own notes I find this rock mentioned as " almost 
covered at times, but occasionally showing above water as high 
as the hull of a ship !" In Mr. Stokes's journal, left with me, 
it is mentioned in these words : " Passed between the Bellaco 
Rocks, close to the eastern one, nearly a-wash ;" and in the 
diary of the NodaW voyage (in 1619), it is spoken of as " una 
baxa que lababa la mar en ella," which means, a rock a-wash. 
The rise of tide there is about twenty feet, which explains 
the various appearances it had to my eye ; for at high water I 
saw it almost covered, or a-wash ; and as the Nodales described 
it similarly in 1619, there can have been extremely little, if any, 
change in the relative heights of sea and land in this place 
during the last two hundred and fifteen years.* Some time ago I 
thought differently, having formed a hasty opinion upon the 
fact of my having seen the rock as high out of water as a ship's 
hull. I did not then consider how much the tide falls, nor did 
I recollect, till I referred to notes, that I had also seen it 
a-wash (the top almost level with the water), at times during 
the many days we were in the neighbourhood. 

On the day that Mr. Stokes and myself made our respective 
notes on the Bellaco (without any communication of opinion), 
an extraordinary effect of refraction was remarked. The meri- 
dian altitude of the sun (then far south) observed at opposite 
horizons, differed no less than sixteen miles ! Similar effects 
had been noticed before, especially on the Patagonian coast, 
therefore we generally observed both ways ; but to nearly 

* As the larger and eastern rock is about a hundred yards long and 
eighty wide, with kelp growing on most parts of it, I do not think the 
top can wear away while so protected by sea-weed. 

1834. VIEWS— PORT SAN JULIAN. , 319 

such an extent as this we never either before or afterwards wit- 
nessed an error arising wholly from the state of the atmosphere 
near the horizon ; causing the visible water-line to be apparently 
raised several minutes of a degree. On these occasions we 
always used the mean of the two results, which agreed closely 
with the latitude resulting from triangular connection with 
points on the shore, whose latitude we knew by observations 
made with the artificial horizon.* 

7th. Mr. Stokes and I landed some leagues northward of 
Port San Julian, near Cape Look-out, and ascended a level- 
topped range of hills about 300 feet above the sea. The view 
we obtained was similar to those so tiresomely common in 
eastern Patagonia. Level, arid, desert-like plains extended 
to the horizon : a few irregular hills were seen in the distance; 
some ffuanacoes and a few ostriches were here and there dis- 
cerned ; a fox crossed our path, and a condor wheeled over- 
head ; nothing more was noticed. 

We returned to the low ground near the sea, and there we 
found plenty of small wood, stunted shrubby trees, fit for 
fuel ; as well as several ponds of fresh-water. The rise of 
tide on the shore was considerably more than twenty feet, but 
we had not time to ascertain it accurately. 

9th. Mount Wood,t that excellent land-mark for Port San 
Julian, was seen at daylight : and about noon the Beagle 
anchored ofi" the bar of the harbour. Mr. Stokes went with 
rae to examine the passage, and before evening our ship was 
safely moored in the port. This was one, among numerous 
instances I could mention, where the good qualities of the 
Beagle, as to sailing and working, saved us days of delay, 
trouble, and anxiety. All hands immediately set-to about the 
plan of the port, and such efficient officers as were with me 
made short work of it. One day Mr. Darwin and I under, 
took an excursion in search of fresh- water, to the head of the 
inlet, and towards a place marked in an old Spanish plan, 

* Bellaco rocks are the same as Estevan shoal. There are at least two 
distinct masses of rock. A ship may pass between them, 
t Nine hundred and fifty feet high. 


" pozos de agua dulce ;" but after a very fatiguing walk not 
a drop of water could be found. I lay down on the top of a 
hill, too tired and thirsty to move farther, seeing two lakes of 
water, as we thought, about two miles off, but unable to 
reach them. Mr. Darwin, more accustomed than the men, or 
myself, to long excursions on shore, thought he could get to 
the lakes, and went to try. We watched him anxiously from 
the top of the hill,* saw him stoop down at the lake, but im- 
mediately leave it and go on to another, that also he quitted 
without delay, and we knew by his slow returning pace that 
the apparent lakes were ' salinas.' We then had no alterna- 
tive but to return, if we could, so descending to meet him at 
one side of the height, we all turned eastward and trudged 
along heavily enough. The day had been so hot that our 
little stock of water was soon exhausted, and we were all 
more or less laden with instruments, ammunition, or weapons. 
About dusk I could move no farther, having foolishly carried 
a heavy double-barrelled gun all day besides instruments, so, 
choosing a place which could be found again, I sent the party 
on and lay down to sleep ; one man, the most tired next to 
myself, staying with me. A glass of water would have made 
me quite fresh, but it was not to be had. After some hours, 
two of my boat's crew returned with water, and we were 
very soon revived. Towards morning we all got on board, 
and no one suffered afterwards from the over-fatigue, except 
Mr. Darwin, who had had no rest during the whole of that 
thirsty day — now a matter of amusement, but at the time a 
very serious affair. 

Sir Woodbine Parish intends to publish a description of 
the Spanish settlements on these shores, in which no doubt 
Viedma's, at Port San Julian, will have place. A full 
account of it, in the original language, may be found in the 
diary of Antonio de Viedma, published at Buenos Ayres, in 
18B7, by Don Pedro de Angelis. Finding no water near the 
harbour except after rain, which is there rare, Viedma pitched 

* Named in the plan ' Thirsty Hill.' 


his tents some leagues inland, near a spring frequented by the 
Indians, but their doubtful friendship, the progress of scurvy 
among his own people, their discontent at such a situation, 
and other reasons, inclined the "Spanish viceroy to withdraw 
the settlement. This dreary port, difficult of access and in- 
hospitable even when the stranger is within its entrance, is 
well known to readers of early voyages as the place where 
Magalhaens so summarily quelled a serious mutiny, and con- 
spiracy against his own life, by causing the two principal 
offenders, captains of ships in the squadron, to be put to 
death :* and as the scene of the unfortunate Doughtie's mock 
trial and unjust execution. -^ That two such remarkable expe- 
ditions as those of Magalhaens and Drake should have win- 
tered at Port San Julian, and that two such tragedies should 
have occurred there is remarkable. In the plan of that port 
we now see Execution Island, Isle of True Justice, (in- 
justice ?) and Tomb Point : the two former being names 
given by Drake.J One naturally asks how their ships ob- 
tained water, and the answers occurring to me are, — that they 
were there in the winter season, when the rain which falls is 
not soon dried up ; and that they may have dug wells, which 
we did not think it worth while to do, having no time to spare. 
15th. A French whaler came in over the bar, at high water, 
without having sounded it, or knowing what depth she would 
find. The only instance of similar folly I have witnessed was 
that of a sealing schooner which I met near Port Famine, 
whose master had taken her through Possession Bay and both 
Narrows, without knowing that the tide rose and fell there more 
than six or seven feet, and without a chart of the Strait. 
When I told this man that the tide rose six or seven fathoms 
at the First Narrow, he certainly did not believe me. The bar 
of San Julian is shingle (or gravel), and often altered in 
form by south-east gales or unusual tides. Under ordinary 
circumstances the tide rises thirty feet at full moon. 

* 1520. + Drake's Voyage, 1578. 

t And the latter a memento of Lieut. Sholl, of the Beag-le, (vol. I.) 


19th. Sailed, and, for once during our experience of these 
shores, found a heavy swell setting in from the east.* 

On the 20th we anchored again in Port Desire, and our first 
employment was to look for the rock whose top (Mr. May as- 
sured me with a grave face) we had knocked off with our keel. 

22d. Both vessels sailed, and at sunset the Adventure parted 
company, steering for New Island in the Falklands. Lieute- 
nant Wickham was to make a connected survey of the coast 
of that archipelago, while the Beagle was in other places.-f- 
After giving some time to sounding and examining portions of 
ground in the neighbourhood of Cape Virgins and the eastern 
entrance of Magalhaens" Strait, we passed the First Narrow 
and anchored in Gregory Bay. There, of course, we had an 
interview with old Maria and her party. They received us 
kindly, but with some form, being assembled and seated on 
the ground near our landing place, with two men standing up 
in the midst of them, who looked immoveably grave and 
stupidly dignified. These men were acting as caciques, Maria 
said, the real chiefs being absent. They were stripped to the 
waist, and the upper parts of their bodies spotted with 
wliite paint. J The rest of the people were dressed as usual. 
An active barter commenced, but the portly actors in the 
middle did not take part in it, they remained in their solem- 
nity till we left them. 

On the 2d of February we anchored in Port Famine, and 
on the 10th, having obtained chronometric observations for 
which I went there, we sailed for the neighbourhood of the 
First Narrow and Lomas Bay (near Point Catherine). We 
often anchored thereabouts in the prosecution of our work. 

On the 17th, as we ran along the curious spit or bank of 
shingle that fronts San Sebastian Bay, I really could not tell, 
though I had been in that bay before, whether I had not been 

* I think that this easterly swell must have been caused by a south- 
east gale, though it came to us from the east. 

+ Appendix, No. 18. 

J Much as a piece of new knotty wood is spotted with white lead 
before it receives a coat of paint. 


March. san Sebastian bay— woollya. 323 

■deceived as to no cha,nnel existing,* so well defined and dis- 
tinct did a wide opening appear. A few more minutes, how- 
ever, undeceived me : I discerned low flat land stretching 
along the western horizon : and soon afterwards we anchored in 
the bay. The following week was occupied in surveying the 
north-eastern shore of Tierra del Fuego, which, except San 
Sebastian Bay, does not contain a port. San Vicente Cove 
is not worth notice as a harbour. 

On the 25th, Ave anchored at the Herraite Islands, on the 
north-east side of Wollaston Island. Thence, on the 27th, 
we crossed Nassau Bay to Goree Road, and the following day 
entered the Beagle Channel. 

The 1st of March passed in replenishing our wood and 
water at a cove, where we had an opportunity of making 
acquaintance with some Yapoo Tekeenica natives, who seemed 
not to have met white men before. 

Till the 5th the Beagle was actively occupied, by day, in 
working to windward (westward) through the channel, and 
then she anchored at Woollya. But few natives were seen as 
we sailed along : probably they were alarmed at the ship, and 
did not show themselves. The wigwams in which I had left 
York, Jemmy, and Fuegia, were found empty, though unin- 
jured : the garden had been trampled over, but some turnips 
and potatoes of moderate size were pulled up by us, and eaten 
at my table, a proof that they may be grown in that region. 
Not a living soul was visible any where ; the wigwams seemed 
• to have been deserted many months ; and an anxious hour or 
two passed, after the ship was moored, before three canoes were 
seen in the offing, paddhng hastily towards us, from the place 
now called Button Island. Looking through a glass I saw 
that two of the natives in them were washing their faces, while 
the rest were paddling with might and main : I was then sure 
that some of our acquaintances were there, and in a few minutes 
recognized Tommy Button, Jemmy's brother. In the other 
canoe was a face which I knew yet could not name. " It must 
be some one I have seen before," said I, — when his sharp eye 

• Vol. I. p. 457-8. 

324 * JEMMY ' AND HIS FAMILY. March 

detected me, and a sudden movement of the hand to his head 
(as a sailor touches his hat) at once told me it was indeed 
Jemmy Button — but how altered ! I could hardly restrain my 
feelings, and I was not, by any means, the only one so touched 
by his squalid miserable appearance. He was naked, like his 
companions, except a bit of skin about his loins ; his hair was 
long and matted, just hke theirs ; he was wretchedly thin, and 
his eyes were affected by smoke. We hurried him below, 
clothed him immediately, and in half an hour he was sitting 
with me at dinner in my cabin, using his knife and fork pro- 
perly, and in every way behaving as correctly as if he had 
never left us. He spoke as much English as ever, and, to our 
astonishment, his companions, his wife, his brothers and their 
wives, mixed broken English words in their talking with him. 
Jemmy recollected every one well, and was very glad to see 
them all, especially Mr. Bynoe and James Bennett. I thought 
he was ill, but he surprised me by saying that he was " hearty, 
sir, never better,"* that he had not been ill, even for a day, 
was happy and contented, and had no wish whatever to change 
his way of life. He said that he got " plenty fruits,"f " plenty 
birdies," " ten guanaco in snow time," and "too much fish." 
Besides, though he said nothing about her, I soon heard that 
there was a good-looking ;]: young woman in his canoe, who was 
said to be his wife. Directly this became known, shawls, hand- 
kerchiefs, and a gold-laced cap appeared, with which she was 
speedily decorated ; bvit fears had been excited for her hus- 
band's safe return to her, and no finery could stop her crying 
until Jemmy again showed himself on deck. While he was 
below, his brother Tommy called out in a loud tone-^-" Jemmy 
Button, canoe, come !" After some time the three canoes went 
ashore, laden with presents, and their owners promised to corae 
again early next morning. Jemmy gave a fine otter skin to 
me, which he had dressed and kept purposely ; another he gave 
to Bennett. 

* A favourite saying of his,, formerly. 

t Excrescences on the birch trees, and berries, 

X For a Fuegian, 




ECI)«.V ISftSDiET. n33S. 

a)Es«Mv's W3IFE uaa*. 


«iir;.lftRfflV DN C3S^K. 

j'liFiufjmr ©ofTiriai^i of '.'SSs. 

■ifoiRDi fioawsTEK n.Ffl Dsas 

<ORK DM nsSia. 

(? U IS (B D fc M S . 

l^i'.li£ii>=\T bv HcTti^y Colbrm.Greul "Msrlbca:aagh.Strect."ir<i& 

1834. 'York's' treachery — jemmy's story. 325 

- Next morning Jemmy shared my breakfast, and then weliad 
a long conversation by ourselves ; the result of which was, 
that I felt quite decided not to make a second attempt to 
place Matthews among the natives of Tierra del Fuego. 
Jemmy told me that he knew very little of his own language ; 
that he spoke some words of English, and some Tekeenica, 
when he talked to his family ; and that they all understood the 
English words he used. York and Fuegia left him some 
months before our arrival, and went in a large canoe to their 
own country ; the last act of that cunning fellow was to rob 
poor Jemmy of all his clothes ; nearly all the tools his Tekee- 
nica 'friends' had left him; and various other necessaries. 
Fuegia was dressed as usual, and looking well, when they de- 
camped : her helpmate was also well clothed, and bad hardly 
lost anything I left with him. Jemmy said " York very much 
jaw," " pick up big stones," "all men afraid." Fuegia seemed 
to be very happy, and quite contented with her lot. Jemmy 
asserted that she helped to " catch (steal) his clothes," while he 
was asleep, the night before York left him naked. 

Not long after my departure in Febuary 1833, the much- 
dreaded Oens-men came in numbers, overland, to Woollya ; 
obliged Jemmy's tribe to escape to the small islands, and car- 
ried off every valuable which his party had not time to remove. 
They had doubtless heard of the houses and property left 
there, and hastened to seize upon it — hke other ' borderers.' 
Until this time York had appeared to be settled, and quite at 
ease, but he had been employed about a suspiciously large 
canoe, just finished when the inroad was made. He saved 
this canoe, indeed escaped in it, and afterwards induced Jemmy 
and his family to accompany liim " to look at his land." They 
went together in four canoes (York's large one and three 
others) as far west as Devil Island, at the junction of the 
north-west and south-west arms of the Beagle Channel : there 
they met York's brother and some others of the Alikhoolip 
tribe ; and, while Jemmy was asleep, all the Alikhoolip party 
stole off, taking nearly all Jemmy's things, and leaving him in 
his original condition. York's fine canoe was evidently not 


built for transporting himself alone ; neither was the meeting 
with his brother accidental. I am now quite sure that from the 
time of his changing his mind, and desiring to be placed at 
Woollya, with Matthews and Jemmy, he meditated taking a 
good opportunity of possessing himself of every thing ; and 
that he thought, if he were left in his own country without 
Matthews, he would not have many things given to him, nei- 
ther would he know where he might afterwards look for and 
plunder poor Jemmy. 

While Mr. Bynoe was walking about on shore, Jemmy and 
his brother pointed out to him the places where our tents were 
pitched in 1833, where the boundary line was, and where any 
particular occurrence happened. He told Mr. Bynoe that he 
had watched day after day for the sprouting of the peas, beans, 
and other vegetables, but that his countrymen walked over them 
without heeding any thing he said. The large wigwams which 
we had erected with some labour, proved to be cold in the 
winter, because they were too high ; therefore they had been 
deserted after the first frosts. Since the last depredations of the 
Oens-men, he had not ventured to live any longer at Woollya ; 
his own island, as he called it, affording safer refuge and suffi- 
cient food. 

Jemmy told us that these Oens-men crossed over the Beagle 
Channel, from eastern Tierra del Fuego, in canoes which they 
seized from the Yapoo Tekeenica. To avoid being separated 
they fastened several canoes together, crossed over in a body, 
and when once landed, travelled over-land and came upon his 
people by surprise, from the heights behind Woollya. Jemmy 
asserted that he had himself killed one of his antagonists. It 
Avas generally remarked that his family were become consi- 
derably more humanized than any savages we had seen in 
Tierra del Fuego : that they put confidence in us ; were 
pleased by our return ; that they were ready to do what we 
could explain to be for their interest ; and, in short, that the first 
step towards civilization — that of obtaimng their confidence — 
was undoubtedly made : but an individual, with limited means, 
could not then go farther. The whole scheme, with respect 

' U. .^^ C' ^ (i C .-A 

itiilUahed. ^ lienry CdTbum^GrGKt ItoEEborough. Strcet,lS5B. 


to establishing a missionary with the Fuegians who were in 
England, among their countrymen, was on too small a scale, 
although so earnestly assisted by Mr. Wilson,* Mr. Wigram, 
Mr. Coates, and other kind friends. 

I cannot help still hoping that some benefit, however slight, 
may result from the intercourse of these people, Jemmy, York, 
and Fuegia, with other natives of Tierra del Fuego. Perhaps 
a ship-wrecked seaman may hereafter receive help and kind 
treatment from Jemmy Button's children ; prompted, as they 
can hardly fail to be, by the traditions they will have heard of 
men of other lands ; and by an idea, however faint, of their 
duty to God as well as their neighbour. 

That Jemmy felt sincere gratitude is, I think, proved by his 
having so carefully preserved two fine otter skins, as I men- 
tioned ; by his asking me to carry a bow and quiver full of 
arrows to the schoolmaster of Walthamstow, with whom he had 
hved ; by his having made two spear-heads expressly for Mr. 
Darwin ; and by the pleasure he showed at seeing us all again. 
As nothing more could be done, we took leave of our young 
friend and his family, every one of whom was loaded with pre- 
sents, and sailed away from Woollya. 

On the 9th of March we were off' Beauchesne Island. f Many 
persons have fancied that there are two islands near together 
in that place, having been deceived by two hummocks on the 
only island, which from a distance show just above the horizon 
like two islets. Next day we anchored in Berkeley Sound ; first 
in Johnson Cove, and afterwards in Port Louis. 

We found a state of affairs somewhat different from that of 
March 1833 ; but though more settled, in consequence of the 
presence of an established authority, resident at Port Louis (a 
lieutenant in the navy), my worst forebodings had not equalled 
the sad reality. 

In a note to page 240, I alluded to the murder of the Buenos 
Ayrean commanding officer ; and to that of Mr. Brisbane. A 
few weeks before the Clio arrived in 1833, there was a small 

• Of Walthamstow. t Near the Falklands. 


garrison at Port Louis, consisting of a sergeant's guard of sol- 
diers, a subaltern, and a field officer. The men mutinied be- 
cause their superior was thought to be unnecessarily severe, 
and occupied them unceasingly in drill and parade, to the pre- 
judice of their obtaining food sufficient for health. They were 
obliged, in consequence of his system, to hve upon worse fare 
than the settlers, because they could not go about to forage for 
themselves ; and the result was that, after many threats, they 
murdered him. A small armed schooner* arrived a few days 
afterwards from Buenos Ayres, by whose officers and crew, 
assisted by some French sailors, the principal mutineers, nine 
in number, were taken and put into confinement on board. 
They were afterwards carried to Buenos Ayres. 

On the 26th of August 1833, three 'gauchos' and five In- 
diansj- (the prisoners before mentioned), set upon and murdei-ed 
Mr. Brisbane ; Dickson, the man in charge of Vernet's store ; J 
Simon, the capataz ; the poor German ; and another settler ; 
after which atrocious acts they plundered the settlement and 
drove all the cattle and horses into the interior. Only that morn- 
ing Mr. Low, who was then living with Mr. Brisbane, left Port 
Louis on a sealing excursion, with four men. Hardly was his 
boat out of sight, when the deceitful villains attacked Brisbane 
in Vernet's house: suspecting no treachery, he fell at once by the 
knife of Antonio Rivero. Simon defended himself desperately 
but was overpowered ; the others, overcome by fear, fell easy 
victims. The rest of the settlers, consisting of thii'teen men, 
three women, and two children, remained with the murderers 
two days, and then escaped to a small island in the Sound ; 
where they lived on birds' eggs and fish, till the arrival of the 
English sealer Hopeful, § on board which was an officer of the 
navy, || who in some measure relieved their immediate distress, 
but could not delay to protect them from the assaults which 

* Sarandi. 

t Antonio Rivero, J. M. Luna, M. Godoy, — J.Brasido, M. Gonzales, 
L. Flores, F. Salazar, M. Lattore. 
: P. 240. §Nov. 1833. 

II Mr. Rea, The Hopeful belon^^ed to Messrs. Enderby. 

1834. SEAIICH Foil MURDERERS. 329 

they anticipated. About a month after the Hopeful sailed, 
H.M.S. Challenger, Captain M. Seymour, arrived, having a 
lieutenant of the navy and four seamen on board, who had 
volunteered from H.M.S. Tyne, and were duly authorized to 
remain at the Falklands. The following extract from a letter 
will show what took place on Captain Seymour's arrival. 

" Captain Seymour, and the consuls, being anxious to visit 
the settlement of Port Louis, landed some distance from it (the 
wind being strong from S.S.W.), intending to walk there. 
About a mile from the houses they were met by an Englishman 
named Channon, sent by the gauchoes to see who they were, 
and whetlier the ship was a whaler in want of beef, or a man- 
of-war. He informed them that the gauchoes and Indians had 
murdered Mr. Brisbane : Dickson, who had been left in charge 
of the flag by Captain Onslow : Simon ; and two others : and 
had pillaged the houses, destroying every thing in their search 
for money. He then pointed them out, sitting under a wall, 
with their horses behind the remains of the government house, 
ready saddled for a start on our nearer approach. They had 
two gauchoes, prisoners, who had not been concerned in the 
murders, and whom they threatened to kill, if he, Channon, did 
not return. He also stated that one of them was wilhng to " 
turn king's evidence, and would bring back all the horses, if 
possible, provided Captain Seymour would ensure his pardon. 
The whole of them, nine in number, retreated into the interior 
as soon as they found out it was a ship of war, taking all the 
tame horses, between fifty and sixty.* As his party were not 
armed, Captain Seymour thought it right to return on board ; 
but after dark. Lieutenant Smith was sent with a party of 
marines, and two boats, to try and take them, if they should 
be still about the houses, and to leave with Channon a bottle 
containing a crucifix, as a signal for Luna."!* On their landing. 
Lieutenant Smith took all necessary precautions, left six men 
in charge of the boats, and proceeded cautiously with the 

* Thirteen men and three women had escaped to an island in the Sound, 
as they could do nothing against the murderers, who had all the arms, 
t The gaucho who offered to become king's evidence. 


rest. He carefully searched every building in the place, with- 
out seeing even a trace of them. All was desolation ; yet he 
learned afterwards from the two innocent gauchoes, that An- 
tonio Rivero and another, suspecting who the party were, had 
watched them closely : that at one time Lieut. Smith was near 
treading on them ; which seemed hardly credible, until the 
arrangements made on landing, the marching in Indian file to 
hide his men, &c. were mentioned. Mr. Smith left with Chan- 
non Luna's pardon, who, on the fourth day, brought in two 
horses — not having been able to obtain more, as the murderers 
were very watchful and fearful of each other, so much so, that 
one of them had fallen a sacrifice to suspicion ; and Luna''s 
desertion reduced their number to six. With Luna for their 
guide, on the sixth day Lieut. Smith, four midshipmen and 
twelve marines, were despatched into the interior. They 
were absent four days, and marched more than a hundred 
miles, enduring much fatigue, which was increased by the 
boisterous state of the weather, and by continual rain for three 
out of the four days. Water in ravines, which on going out 
hardly rose above their ankles, on their return had increased to 
torrents : in crossing them some nearly lost their lives, and on 
the bleak moors they sunk at every step knee-deep in bog. 
Without sleep or shelter, they lived for the last two days on 
beef just warmed through, by fires that it took hours to kindle. 
They were not successful in capturing any of the murderers, 
but at one time were so near, that they had the mortification 
to see them drive their horses away at a gallop, and having all 
the tame ones but two, they were quickly out of reach of 
musket-shot. So hasty however was their retreat, that they left 
their provisions behind them. Captain Seymour finding that 
capturing the Indians would be a tedious and uncertain task, 
made one of the ruined houses habitable, and leaving six 
mai'ines as an additional protection to Lieut. Smith and his 
boat's crew, proceeded as ordered. The lieutenant endea- 
voured to make his abode comfortable, by clearing away rub- 
bish and bones, and putting a garden into some order. With 
the two horses he succeeded in catching and taming two cows, 

1834. RIVERO TAKEN LOW. 331 

which gave about two gallons of milk daily, besides fourteen 
others, five or six of which were in calf. By one means or other 
all but one of the murderers were taken, and a cutter was hired 
to remove them to the flag-ship at Rio de Janeiro." 

Before the Bea2:le''s arrival Lieut. Smith had succeeded in 
capturing the principal murderer, and transporting him to an 
islet in the Sound, where he was watched, and furnished with 
provisions by the boat's crew. The lieutenant applied to me 
for assistance, and knowing that he was not safe while such a 
desperate character as Rivero was at large, though on an islet, 
and that the life of Luna (the king's evidence) was still more 
risked, I took those men, and one named Channon, who was 
said to have been an accomplice in the plot, though not an 
active agent, on board the Beagle. Rivero was put in irons, 
Channon confined to the ship, and Luna left at liberty, though 

When Mr. Low returned from his sealing expedition he 
found that his life was sought, as a friend of Mr. Brisbane ; 
and as he could do nothing on foot against the mounted gau- 
choes, he retired to Kidney Islet, at the entrance of Berkeley 
Sound, to await the arrival of some ship. Tired, however, of 
inaction, he set out to go westward, in search' of some whaler, 
and on the 6th of February, when in great distress, he fell in 
with our tender, the Adventure, and immediately offered his 
services as a pilot : they were accepted, provisionally, by Lieut. 
Wickham, and afterwards by me, trusting that the Admiralty 
would approve of my so engaging a person who, in pilotage 
and general information about the Falklands,Tierra del Fuego, 
Patagonia, and the Galapagos Islands, could afford us more 
information than any other individual, without exception. 

Mr. William Low is the son of a respectable land-agent in 
Scotland ; he was brought up as a sailor, and possesses strong 
common sense, quick apprehension, a readiness at description, 
and an extraordinary local memory. 

On the 13th the Adventure arrived: shehadalmost completed 
her examination of the west, south, and south-east outer coasts, 
in a very satisfactory manner, having been greatly forwarded 

332 BKisBANE — WRECK. March 1834. 

and helped by Mr. Low's minute acquaintance with every 
port, and almost every danger. Our tender sailed to continue 
her coasting examination on the 21st. She returned on the 
26th, and sailed again on the 30th. Meanwhile our own boats 
were constantly occupied in and near Berkeley Sound and 
Port William. 

When I visited the settlement it looked more melancholy 
than ever ; and at two hundred yards' distance from the house 
in which he had lived, I found, to my horror, the feet of poor 
Brisbane protruding above the ground. So shallow was his 
grave that dogs had disturbed his mortal remains, and had 
fed upon the corpse. This was the fate of an honest, indus- 
trious, and most faithful man : of a man who feared no danger, 
and despised hardships. He was murdered by villains, because 
he defended the property of his friend ; he was mangled by them 
to satisfy their hellish spite ; dragged by a lasso, at a horse's 
heels, away from the houses, and left to be eaten by dogs. 
, Besides my own acquaintance with him and opinions derived 
from the personal knowledge of the Beagle's officers, some of 
whom had known Brisbane when his vessel, the Saxe Cobourg, 
was wrecked in Fury Harbour (owing to no fault of his), 
Mr. Weddell bears testimony to his character on many occa- 
sions, particularly by an observation in page 48 (Weddell's 
Voyage), where he says, " I had full confidence in the care 
and ability of Mr. Brisbane." (1823.) 

In 1830 Mr. Brisbane was wrecked on the eastern coast of 
Tierra del Fuego, near Policarpo Cove, (54° 38' S.), when seal- 
ing there in partnership with Mr. Bray, who afterwards com- 
manded the sealing schooner ' Transport,' lost in 1833, at 
Hope Harbour. I have a copy of their log in my possession, 
from which the following extracts are selected, to show with 
what enduring patience some of those hardy sealers bear mis- 
fortune and distress, 

" Feb. 23d. Employed saving things from the wreck : six 
Indians came to us. 24th. Twenty-five Indians came, with their 
women and children. 25th. Another visit from natives : men, 
women, and children. 26th. Indians began to be very trou- 


blesome. 27t]i. Forty Indians came to us, all armed with bows, 
arrows, and slings, without women or children. Some of our 
people employed in building a shallop out of the wreck. 28th. 
More Indians, with twelve strong women and eighteen chil- 
dren : but unarmed on this day. 

" March 1st. More Indian visitors. 2d. Fifty-one natives, 
armed." To the 9th the crew continued to build their shallop, 
and were almost daily visited by natives, whom two-thirds of 
the party were obliged to watch with arms in their hands. On 
the 21st sixty-one natives visited them (these Indians always 
went away before dusk). On the 23d the time of high-water 
was observed to be 4*^. 40™, and the rise seventeen feet, during 
moderate westerly wind and settled weather. Mr. Brisbane 
made the latitude, by observation, 54° 38' S. and the longitude 
he estimated at 65°. 30'. W. " 29th. Much troubled every 
day by natives, who tried to steal our tools ; and hard pressed 
by hunger. No supper(a) the last three days. 

" 2d April. Four long guns were found to the eastward, lying 
on a piece of the forecastle of some large ship, supposed to be 
a large frigate (6), also two leaden hawse pipes attached to the 
woodwork. 8th. A large party of Indians, who were plaguing 
us, quarrelled among themselves, and had a severe fight. 9th. 
Our last remainder of provisions finished. 15th. Employed 
caulking the shallop"'s deck, and getting limpets from the rocks. 
N. B. Almost starving. 17th. Not being troubled to-day by 
natives, and the sea being smooth, went out in a little boat 
which we had saved, and caught eleven skate." 

After this day several fish were caught at times, which, with 
shell-fish, afforded a scanty subsistence; but before this time 
they had been reduced to eating hide, and half putrid blubber, 
which they got by barter from the Indians. Mr. Bray, as well 
as Brisbane, told me that hunger and anxiety so wore and 
excited them, that they could seldom sleep more than an hour 

Caj Supper was their principal meal ; as during the day, while the 
Indians were about, they had no time to cook or eat. R. F. 
rbj Perhaps the O'Higgins— ^Chilian). R. F. 


or two at night, thougli working all day, while they were so 
hard pressed for food. 

" 22d. Launched the shallop, or rather, hauled her down at 
low water, and let her float. 24th. Indians more troublesome 
than ever ; obliged to fire at them repeatedly. 27th. Almost 
starved, eating bullock's hide. 30th. Nothing to eat but bul- 
lock's hide and berries. Could not get the shallop over the 
reef because of a heavy surf. 

" May 1st. Got out to sea ; found the shallop leak very much: 
nothing to eat but hide. 2d. Lat. 54°. 00'. Long. east. 63°. 50'. 
5th. Made Cape Meredith (in the Falklands), but could not 
get near for want of wind. 6th. Two men gave out(c) for want 
of food : they had gone six days with but one pound of hide. 7th. 
A heavy gale; the shallop under bare poles, and almost sinking; 
sea making a clear breach over her ; men quite worn out by 
constant pumping and baling, and by want of food : we had a 
very hard job to keep her from sinking : at dusk saw land 
through the rain and spray, half a mile to leeward ; showed the 
head of the jib, and bore away right before the wind for the 
nearest part : saw a cove, ran into it, and anchored. Killed 
numbers of geese ; thanked God for our safety. 11th. Many 
of our men ill from the sudden change. 17th. Went ashore in 
Pleasant Harbour ; saw a great number of cattle ; the dog 
caught two of them, and held them for us to kill.(d) 30th of 
May. Anchored in Port Louis, landed, and hauled the shallop 
ashore at high-water." 

The vessel in which Brisbane and Bray were wrecked, was 
driven ashore in a northerly gale, while sealing near Policarpo 
Cove. Their crew consisted of about twenty men, most of whom 
had fire-arms, and plenty of ammunition. Though it will 
swell yet more the catalogue of his disasters, I must add that 
Brisbane was once wrecked on South Georgia, and escaped 
thence to Monte Video in a shallop, which he and his compa- 
nions in distress built out of the wreck of their sealing vessel. 

fcj Could work no longer. R. F. 

{dj Seized them by the lip. He was a large, strong animal, between 
a bull-dog and a mastiff. R. F. 


April 1834. BURIAL of lieut. cltve. 335 

I have now by me two of the tools, almost the only ones, which 
they had to use : one is a cooper's adze, nearly worn down to 
the middle ; and the other a saw, made out of a piece of iron 
hoop, fixed to a wooden frame. 

6th April. While the Beagle was preparing for sea the body 
of Lieut. Clive,* late of H. M. S. Challenger, was found lying 
at high-water mark, in an unfrequented part of Berkeley 
Sound ; and the following morning I buried it in a grave on 
shore, not far from the tomb of our regretted shipmate Hellyer. 
After noon, on the same day, we sailed from the Falklands, 
depressed more than ever by the numerous sad associations 
connected with their name. 

* Lieut. Clive was drowned accidentally, by the upsetting of a small 
boat : — his body could not then be found. 


Sounding-s — Anchor in Santa Cruz — Lay Beagle ashore for repair — 
Prepare to ascend River — Set out — View of surrounding country- 
Rapid stream — Cold — Ostriches — Guanacoes — Indians — Fish — Cliffs 
— Firewood — Lava Cliffs — Difficulties — Chalia — See Andes — Far- 
thest West — View round — Return — Danger — Guanaco hunters — 
Puma— Cat — Tides — Sail from Santa Cruz. 

In working to the westward from Berkeley Sound to the 
River Santa Cruz, we sounded frequently, and found that the 
depth is nowhere much above one hundred fathoms between 
those places. But the water is not of so little depth between the 
Falklands and Cape Virgins, or Tierra del Fuego ; for there 
we could not strike soundings in some places, towards the 
islands, with one hundred and fifty fathoms of line. 

On the 13th we anchored in the Santa Cruz, and imme- 
diately prepared to lay our vessel ashore for a tide, to ascertain 
how much injury had been caused by the rock at Port Desire, 
and to examine the copper previous to her employment in the 
Pacific Ocean, where worms soon eat their way through unpro- 
tected planks. (16th.) When on the beach, at a place we after- 
wards called ' Keel Point,' it was found that a piece of the false 
keel under the ' fore-foot,' had been knocked off, and that a few 
sheets of copper were a good deal rubbed. By Mr. May's exer- 
tions all was repaired in one tide ; and the following day we 
were making preparations for an excursion up the river. 

17th. An examination, or rather a partial exploring, of the 
River Santa Cruz had long been meditated. During the former 
voyage of the Beagle, Captain Stokes had ascended the rapid 
current as far as a heavy boat could be taken ; but his account 
served only to stimulate our curiosity, and decided my follow- 
ing his example. 

Three light boats were prepared (whale-boats strengthened)- 
as much provision as they could stow with safety was put into 
them, and a party of officers and men selected. Lieut. Sulivan, 

p> ft a H r 


having to take charge of the ship during our absence, could 
not go ; neither could Mr. Stewart, or Mr. King, who were 
required to attend to duties on board ; but Mr. Darwin, Mr. 
Chaffers, Mr. Stokes, Mr. Bynoe, Mr. Mellersh, Mr. Martens, 
and eighteen seamen and marines prepared to accompany me. 

Early on the 18th we left the Beagle, and with a favouring 
wind and flood tide sailed up the estuary, into which the river 
flows. This wide and turbid estuary receives a torrent which 
rushes through a confined opening into the ocean, during seven 
hours, and is opposed and driven back by the flood tide during 
about five hours of the twelve. On each side of both the estuary 
and river lie extensive plains of arid desert land : these plains 
are not, however, on the same level ; for, on the northern bank 
the land is very little raised above the level of high spring tides ; 
while, on the southern side of the river, high, perpendiculai- 
cliffs form a striking contrast : but after ascending these heights, 
by any of the ravines which intersect them, one finds a dead 
level expanse, similar in every respect to that on the northern 
shore. In the horizon, another ' steppe,' or parallel plain, at a 
higher elevation, is seen ; which, at a distance, appears like a 
range of hills of equal height. 

Excepting in tlie porphyry districts, all the eastern coasts of 
Patagonia, and the little of the interior which I have seen, 
seemed to me to be a similar succession of horizontal ranges of 
level land varying in height, intersected here and there by 
ravines and water-courses. There are, certainly, hills in many- 
places which appear when one is passing at sea, or in the dis- 
tance, conical, or at all events peaked; but even those hills 
are but the gable ends, as it were, of narrow horizontal ridges 
of land, higher than the surrounding country. 

The cMs on the south side of the river have a whitish 
appearance ; and are similar to those on the outer coast, 
which were said by Sir John Narborough to resemble the 
.coast of Kent. Their upper outline, when seen from a dis- 
tance, is quite horizontal. Brownish yellow is the prevaiHng 
colour, lighter or darker, as the sun shines more, or becomes 
obscured. Here and there, in hollow places and ravines, a 

VOL. IT. 2 


few shrubby bushes are seen. But over the wide desola- 
tion of the stony barren waste not a ti*ee — not even a soli- 
tary ' ombu'' * — can be discerned. Scattered herds of ever- 
wary guanacoes, startled at man's approach, neighing, stamp- 
ing, and tossing their elegant heads ; a few ostriches striding 
along in the distant horizon, and here and there a solitary con- 
dor soaring in the sky, are the only objects which attract the 
eye. Certainly, upon looking closely, some withered shrubs 
and a yellow kind of herbage may be discerned ; and, in walk- 
ing, thorns and prickles assure one painfully that the plain is 
not actually a desert : but I am quite sure that the general 
impression upon the mind is that of utter hopeless sterility. 
Is it not remarkable that water-worn shingle stones, and dilu- 
vial accumulations, compose the greater portion of these 
plains .P On how vast a scale, and of what duration must have 
been the action of those waters which smoothed the shingle 
stones now buried in the deserts of Patagonia. 

Fresh water is seldom found in these wastes ; salinas-^ are 
numerous. The climate is delightful to the bodily sensations ; 
but for productions of the earth, it is almost as bad as any, 
except that of the Arabian, or African deserts. Rain is sel- 
dom known during three quarters of the year ; and even in the 
three winter months, when it may be expected, but little falls 
excepting on rare occasions, when it comes down heavily for 
two or three days in succession. Sea winds sometimes bring 
small misty rain for a few hours, at any time of year, but not 
enough to do good to vegetable productions. The only ani- 
mals which abound are guanacoes, and they care little for fresh 
water, for they have often been seen drinking at the salinas. 
The puma probably quenches its thirst in their blood ; of 
other animals, supposed to require much liquid, there are none 
in these regions. 

The climate is healthy and pleasant; generally a bright, sunny 
day is succeeded by a cloudless and extremely clear night. In 

• A kind of elder, growing here and there in Patagonia and the Pam- 
pas. See page 93. 

t Salt depositions or incrustations. 

Port Santa Craz (Keel PoirUJ Lat. SO. 6.45 S. 
Long-.ff^. 24. O. W. 

...Var. 20.54^. E. 

B . M. 
.. H.W. 9.45. 

.. Spring Rise 42 feet. 

Jfcap Rise 18. 

...Strength, of tide S to 6 Snots. 

ScaIe,Salfa/i Inch • one Mile. 

.hihluh/:d by Eenry (2>lbuiii,6ffjitM-o-2bort/uah Street 133 fl. 

1834. CLIMATE — BANKS — TIDES. 339 

summer the heat is scorching, but not sultry ; and in winter, 
though the weather is sometimes searchingly cold, especially 
during southerly winds, the air is always elastic and whole- 
some. Changes of wind are sudden, and cause rapid, though 
not very great, variations of temperature. Sometimes the sky 
is slightly or partially overcast, occasionally clouded heavily ; 
but on most days there is bright sunshine, and a fresh or strong 
westerly wind. 

The confluence of a continental torrent of fresh water, with 
great tides of the ocean, which here rise forty feet perpendicu- 
larly, has embarrassed the mouth of the Santa Cruz with a 
number of banks. They are all composed of shingle and mud, 
and alter their forms and positions when aff'ected by river- 
floods, or by the heavy seas caused by south-east gales. 

Into the entrance of the Santa Cruz, the flood-tide sets 
about four knots an hour ; one may say, from two to five 
knots, according to the time of tide, and the narrower or 
broader part of the opening ; and outwards, the water rushes 
at least six knots on an average in mid-channel. There are 
places in which at times, when acted upon by wind or unusual 
floods, it runs with a velocity of not less than seven or eight 
•knots an hour — perhaps even more; but near either shore, and 
in bights between projecting points, of course the strength of 
the outward as well as inward current is very inferior. 

In such a bight, almost under some high cliff's on the south- 
ern shore, the Beagle was moored, and it is easy to conceive 
the different views presented in this situation, with forty feet 
change in the level of the water. At high water, a noble river, 
unimpeded, moves quietly, or is scarcely in motion : at other 
times, a rushing torrent struggles amongst numerous banks, 
whose dark colour and dismal appearance add to the effect 
of the turbid yellow water, and naked-looking, black, muddy 

The boats sailed on between some of the banks, with a fresh 
southerly wind, disturbing every where immense flights of 
sea-birds. Now and then a monstrous sea-lion lifted his un- 
wieldy bulk a few inches from the stony bank, lazily looked 


340 weddell's rluff — fresh watf.r. April 

around, and with a snort and a growl, threw his huge 
shapelessness, by a floundering waddle, towards the nearest 

As far as Weddell's Bluff* we sailed merrily ; but there 
took to the oars, because the river makes a sudden turn, or 
rather, the river Santa Cruz (properly so called), enters the 
estuary of the same name from the south-west, as far as can 
be seen from WeddelFs Bluff: — but a Httle beyond where the 
eye reaches, it takes a westerly direction. Another river, the 
Chico of Viedma, also enters the estuary at this place from the 
north-west. Here, a little above the Bluff, the water was fresh 
on the surface, and sometimes it is quite fresh, even into the 
estuary ; but in filling casks, or dipping any thing into the 
stream for fresh water, it is advisable not to dip deep, or to let 
the hose (if one is used), go many inches below the surface, 
since it often happens that the upper water is quite fresh, while 
that underneath is salt. This occurs, more or less, in all rivers 
which empty themselves into the sea : the fresh water, specifi- 
cally lighter, is always uppermost. 

Wind failing us entii-ely, we pulled to the south-west. On our 
left, high cliffs still continued, and at their base a wide shingle 
beach offered tempting landing-places, with many spots ex- 
tremely well adapted for laying a vessel ashore, to be repaired 
or cleaned ; on our right, a low shore extended, rising gradually, 
however, in the north-west, f to cliffs Uke those near Keel 

The flowing tide favoured us until about five, when we 
landed on the north shore, at a spot where the rise and fall of 
the tide had diminished to four feet. Here the river was six 
hundred and forty yards in breadth, running down at the rate 
of about six knots during a part of the ebb, and from two to 
four knots an hour during the greater part of the flood-tide. 
It was perfectly fresh to the bottom, and in mid-channel about 
three fathoms deep ; but this depth extended very little way 

* Named after the enterprizing southern navigator. 

i On the south side of the north-west arm of the Santa Cruz. 


across, the deep channel being extremely narrow, not more 
than twenty yards in width. 

The distinct difference between the opposite banks of the 
river had been diminishing, until at this spot* both sides were 
much alike. We had left the cliffs and salt water, and had 
fairly entered the fresh-water river. Instead of having a wide 
extent of dismal-looking banks and dark-coloured muddy 
shores, we were at the side of a rapid stream, unvarying in 
width, on whose banks shrubs and grass agreeably relieved our 
eyes from muddy shingle covered with hosts of crabs. 

Our first night passed Avell, for there were plenty of bushes 
to supply us with fire-wood. Early next morning, some of the 
party went upon the nearest hills to look for guanacoes, when 
they saw that although the surface of the country appeared to 
an observer near the river to be irregular and hilly, upon 
ascending the heights it became apparent that the stream ran 
in a large valley ; that the general character of the country 
was similar to what I have already described, and that those 
which had appeared to be hills were the terminating sides of 
extensive plains, whose level was about three hundred feet 
above the river. Near the fresh water, shrubs, bushes, and 
grass were not scarce ; but every where on the higher ground 
a sterile, stony waste met the eye. Mr. Stokes-f- and I went on 
the heights, toobtaina view of the river ; and for a considerable 
distance we could trace its windings, but were sorry to see a 
great number of small islands, thickly covered with brushwood, 
which seemed likely to impede our progress if obliged to track J 
the boats. 

The southerly wind blew keenly over the high land, and 
the surface of the ground was frozen hard ; but the air was 
healthily fresh and bracing. Where, indeed, could it be purer 
than on these dry hills ? At first setting out we tried the 
oars, but very soon found them unable to contend with the 

* The northern bight, or cove, a few miles north-eastward of Islet 

+ It was his office to make a map of the country we passed through. 
I Pull, or tow them along by a rope. 


Strength of the stream ; so landing all our party, except two 
in each boat, we made the boats fast to one another, at a few 
yards apart, in a line a-head : and then taking the end of a 
coil of whale-line ashore, half our party fixed themselves to 
it by laniards of broad canvas straps, which passed across 
their breasts and over one shoulder, and walked together 
steadily along the river's bank. The bight of the line was 
passed round a stout mast, stepped in the headmost boat and 
attended by the two men, who veered away or shortened in 
the line as the varying width of the stream, or frequent impe- 
diments rendered necessary. In this manner, one-half of our 
party relieving the other about once an hour, every one wil- 
lingly taking his turn at the track rope,* we made steady 
progress against the stream of the river, which rather increased 
m rapidity as we ascended, until its usual velocity was be- 
tween six and seven knots an hour. While among the islands 
which I mentioned tracking was difficult and tedious, many 
were the thorny bushes through which one half of the party 
on the rope dragged their companions. Once in motion no 
mercy was shewn : if the leading man could pass, all the rest 
were bound to follow. Many were the duckings, and not 
trifling the wear and tear of clothes, shoes, and skin. At 
intervals stoppages were made for refreshment and obser- 

Three chronometers were carried in the boats, with other 
necessary instruments: among them two mountain barome- 
ters, with which Mr. Darwin and myself wished to measure 
the height of the river above the level of the sea, and the 
heights of the neighbouring ranges of hills above the level of 
the river. This afternoon we picked up a boat-hook upon the 
south bank of the river, which was immediately recognized 
to be one which had been left by accident sticking in a mud- 
bank, by the party who accompanied Captain Stokes in his 
excursion up this river in the year 1827. 

It was very cold at our bivouac this night, being a sharp 

* Mr. Stokes alone being- excepted, as his duty required continual 


frost : and while observing the moon's meridian altitude, dew 
was deposited so fast upon the roof of the artificial horizon, 
and froze there so quickly as it fell, that I could hardly make 
the observation. My sextant was injured a little by the frost, 
for not having been used before in very cold weather, the brass 
contracted so much as to injure the silvering at the back of 
the index glass, and slightly change the index error. 

In the morning it was so cold that our usual ablutions were 
shunned, and all were anxious to have the first spell at the 
rope in order to warm themselves, though few had slept many 
minutes, and many had hard work the previous day. The ther- 
mometer was at 22° Fahr. — nothing, — indeed warm weather to 
Polar voyagers, but to us, accustomed to temperate climates, 
it appeared a severe degree of cold. 

20th. As we were going along the bank of the river, which 
to our great benefit was becoming more accessible and clearer 
of bushes, we saw some dark coloured animals crossing the 
stream at a distance, but no one could guess what they were 
until the foremost of them reached the shore, and rising upon 
his stilt-like legs, showed himself to be an ostrich. Six or 
seven of these birds were swimming across : till then I had 
no idea that so long-legged a bird, not web-footed, would, 
of its own accord, take to the water and cross a rapid stream : 
this, however, was a certain proof to the contrary, for nothing 
had disturbed them that we could discern. As far as we could 
tell, at so great a distance, they seemed to be of the kind 
which the Spanish-patagonians call ' Avestruz-petis.' They 
were, however, far too wild to be approached with a gun. We 
saw smoke at a distance and anticipated meeting Indians, in 
the course of our next day's journey. The country around con- 
tinued similar to that already described : but islands no longer 
impeded our progress, though some high cliffy banks gave us 
trouble. At the next place where we passed a night, Mr. Dar- 
win tried to catch fish with a casting net, but without success ; 
so strong a stream being much against successful fishing. Avery 
sharp frost again this night. The net and other things, which 


had occupied but little room in the boat, were frozen so hard as 
to become unmanageable and very difficult to stow, 

21st. We proceeded as usual, dragging the boats up the 
stream (or rather torrent, for it never ran less than six knots, 
and in many places more) at the rate of about two miles an 
hour : and as we were approaching near to the smoke, we chose 
our position for the night, rather more cautiously than usual, 
upon a little peninsula. 

22d. We had not advanced a mile this morning, when fresh 
tracks of Indians, on horseback, trailing their long lances, 
aroused our utmost vigilance. We thought they had been 
reconnoitring our party, at day-light, and perhaps such was 
the case. The smoke of their fires was seen behind the nearest 
range of low hills, on our side of the river, being then on the 
north bank, but the boats had been tracking on either side, 
as better ground for walking was found. Proceeding on, a 
dead animal was found in the water, which proved to be a 
guanaco; how it came by its death did not appear, as it 
showed no external wound, but some of our party, hungrier 
or less squeamish than the rest, immediately proposed dividing 
and eating it ; and hunger carried the day : the dead animal 
was hauled on shore, cut to pieces, and distributed. The 
guanaco steaks were much relished by all except two or three, 
who could not conqvier their antipathy to supposed carrion. 
Our meal was eaten close to the place where we thought a 
tribe of Indians was encamped: and, in consequence, our 
arms were kept in readiness, and a careful watch set. After- 
Avards cautiously proceeding, we arrived at the spot whence 
the smoke had issued, but saw no human beings : though 
marks of very recent fire, and numerous tracks of feet upon a 
soft muddy place at the side of the river, showed that a party 
of Indians had lately crossed over, and a smoke rising at some 
distance on the southern shore, pointed out where they were 
gone. At this spot there was about an acre of good pasture 
land, by the water side : and the breadth of the river itself was 
sometiiing less than usual, reasons which had induced the na- 

1834. ' INDIAN pass' SHINGLE BEDS. - 345 

tives to select it as a crossing place.* To pass a river running 
at the rate of six or seven miles an hour, and about two hun- 
dred yards in width, can be no easy task to women and chil- 
dren. But as we saw many prints of very small feet on the 
muddy bank, both women and children must have crossed at 
this place with the men. How did they get over ? there is no 
wood, neither are there rushes with which they might make 
balsas.-f- Perhaps some of the women and children were put 
into rough, coracle-like boats, made of hides,J and towed 
across by the horses, holding by whose tails the men swam 
and perhaps many of the women. This method of holding by 
the tail, while swimming, is said to be better than resting a 
hand upon the horse''s neck and holding by the mane. None 
of the Indians sit upon their horses while swimming. 

This day (22d) we passed two places which we considered 
rapids, the stream of the river ran so violently, and we had 
so much difficulty in passing, even with all hands upon the 
rope. Besides the strength of the stream we had to contend 
against high cliffs, over whose upper edges it was difficult to 
convey the tow-line : yet we made good about twelve miles 
in the day. The night of the 22d was not so cold as the pre- 
ceding, but we always found the nights wintry though the 
days were warm, so much so, indeed, that we were often 
annoyed by the heat of the sun. So winding was the course 
of the river that we certainly walked double the distance 
which was advanced in a direct line : yet very little of inte- 
rest, as a picturesque subject, had been seen; for no country 
excepting a desert could wear a more triste and unvarying 

Immense accumulations of shingle, rounded stones, imbed- 
ded, as before mentioned, in diluvial deposition, form the 
level plain, or valley, through which the river pursues its 
very winding course. The width of this vale varies from one 
mile to five miles, and the level of the shingle plain is from 

* Marked * Indian Pass ' on the plan. + Floats or rafts. 

X " Me envio tres indios nadadores, provisto de cueros y palos para 
formar una pelota." (Diario de Viodma, p. 58.) 


three hundred to one thousand feet below that of the adjacent 
higher, but still horizontal ranges — whose broken-down ends, 
or sides, form the boundaries of the valley through which the 
river flows. Those of the higher ranges look like hills when 
one is in the valley, and it is not until after ascending to 
their summits that their real nature is seen ; when, instead 
of being inclined to consider those heights as hills, one be- 
comes disposed to think the valley of the river a vast exca- 
vation, cut down below the level of the neighbouring country. 
But on the height, or in the valley, all is an unprofitable 
waste. Scarcely, indeed, could we find bushes enough, even 
near the river, to make our nightly fires, after the third day''s 
journey. The wiry, half-withered grass upon which the 
guanacoes feed is so scanty, that they are obliged to wander 
over much ground in search of their food. Those few stunted 
bushy trees which are found here and there, near the river* 
are a kind of thorn trees, the wood of which is extremely 
hard and durable.* The night of the 22d we passed by the 
side of a little cove, which sheltered the boats from the 
strength of the stream : and, as all hands were tired, we rested 
during the morning of the following day. 

After noon (23d) we went on, and at dark stopped on the 
south shore. Scarcity of fuel and a cold night, made it neces- 
sary to take good care of the wood when cut. There may be 
honour among thieves, but there was little to be found during 
a cold night among our party, for the fire of those who hap- 
pened to be on watch was sure to blaze cheerily, at the expense 
of the sleepers. A little incident occurred here very unim- 
portant certainly to those unconcerned, yet of much conse- 
quence to us : we left our stock of salt behind, and a spade, 
which latter was much wanted for earthing up the sides of our 
tents, to keep out the cold wind. 

24th. I noticed more than usual a curious effect of the 
river water being so much warmer than the air over it.f At 

* A guanaco was sliot this day bj' the running fire of several guns. 
He was soon cut up and stowed in the boats. 

+ The temperature of the air being 30°, that of the water 4(i°. 


daybreak, and until after sunrise, the river was smoking, quite 
as if it were boiling. This day we passed some earthy cliffs 
between two and three hundred feet in height, and where they 
came in our way it was extremely difficult to manage the boats 
and tow-lines ; but by veering out at those times a great length 
of rope, our object was accomplished without any disaster. 
Near these cliffs the valley of the river begins to contract and 
become more irregular, and the sides or breaking down of the 
higher ranges become more abrupt and are nearer to the river. 
In most places we found a cliffy side opposite to a low pro- 
jecting point of shingle, but in some spots that we passed 
both sides were high, and we had no choice on which to take 
the tow-line. The difference, also, between the level of the 
higher ranges and that of the river, was observed to be much 

On this day (25th) our best shots succeeded in killing two 
guanacoes, but they died out of our reach, and probably 
became food for pumas, instead of man. The order of our 
march was usually one or two riflemen in advance, as scouts 
— Mr. Darwin, and occasionally Mr. Stokes, or Mr. Bynoe, 
upon the heights — a party walking along the banks, near the 
boats, ready to reheve or assist in tracking, and the eight 
or ten men who were dragging the three boats along at the 
rate of about two miles an hour over the ground, though full 
eight knots through the water. Difficult places to pass — 
delays caused by embarking and disembarking frequently to 
change banks, and avoid impediments — the necessary observa- 
tions, rest, and meals, occupied so much time that we did not 
average more than twelve miles in one day : and even that 
small distance was not accomplished without making both 
slioulders and feet sore. 

26th. In the distance some very level topped, dark looking 
cliffs, were seen at the summits of elevated ranges, which 
Mr. Darwin thought must have a capping or coating of lava. 
Of course we were very anxious to verify a fact so curious, 
and at noon were quite satisfied that it was so, having 
approached to the foot of a height thus capped, whose frag- 

348 LAVA DisTracT — ' basalt glkn/ April 

ments had in falling not only scattered themselves over the 
adjacent plain, but into the bed of the river, in such a manner 
as to make the passage exceedingly dangerous ; because large 
angular masses, in some places showing above the stream in 
others hidden beneath, but so near the surface that the water 
eddied and swelled over them, menaced destruction to the 
boats as they were with difficulty dragged through the eddy- 
ing rapid ; sometimes the rope caught under or around one 
of those masses, and caused much trouble. Near the spot 
where we stopped at noon there is a glen, quite different in 
character from any place we had passed.* Indeed, vipon enter- 
ing the lava district, or that part of the country over which 
lava formerly flowed, there was no longer a Patagonian aspect 
around. Steep precipices, narrow, winding vallies, abundance 
of huge angular fragments of lava, a more rapid and nar- 
rower river, and plains of solid lava overlying the whole sur- 
face of the country, make this district even worse in its appear- 
ance than the eastern coast of Patagonia. Excepting in an 
occasional ravine nothing grows. Horses could not travel far, 
the ground being like rough iron ; and water, excepting that 
of the river and its tributary in Basalt Glen, is very scarce. 

The glen above mentioned is a wild looking ravine, bounded 
by black lava cliffs. A stream of excellent water winds 
through it amongst the long grass, and a kind of jungle at 
the bottom. Lions or rather pumas shelter in it, as the 
recently torn remains of guanacoes showed us. Condors inha- 
bit the basaltic cliffs. Near the river some imperfect columns 
of basalt give to a remarkable rocky height, the semblance of 
an old castle. Altogether it is a scene of wild loneliness quite 
fit to be the breeding place of lions.f 

No signs of human visitors were discovered : indeed, the 
nature of the country must almost prevent horsemen from 
traversing these regions, there is so little food and such bad 
ground : only in glens or ravines such as this can any grass 
or bushes be found. Guanacoes absolutely swarm upon the 

* ' Basalt Glen.' + " Loonum arida nutrix." 

" I 


heights, a consequence probably of their being undisturbed. 
They spread over the face of the high country like immense 
flocks of sheep. 

During a long walk this evening Mr. Stokes and I were 
repeatedly disappointed by the mirage over an extensive stony 
plain, between two bends of the river. We were tired and 
very thirsty, and went from one apparent piece of water to 
another, only to be tantalized and to increase still more our 

27th. Similar country. On the banks of the river some 
drift wood was found ; the trunks of trees of considerable size. 
Small trees had been found lying by the side of the river, 
from time to time, but none so large as these, some of which 
were almost two feet in diameter, and about thirty feet in 
length. The wood appeared to be ' Sauci,' of the red kind. 
That these trees had been drifted from a great distance was 
evident, because they were much water worn. 

28th. In passing a rapid, whose difficulties were much in- 
creased by rugged blocks of lava lying in the bed of the 
river, one of our boats was badly stove and barely rescued 
from sinking in the middle of the stream : fortunately we got 
her on shore and there patched her up. There was still no 
change in the scenery, nor any signs of inhabitants : and our 
work was as monotonous as heavy. 

29th. While upon a high range of lava-capped land, Mr- 
Stokes and Mr. Darmn descried distant mountains in the 
west, covered with snow. At last, then, the Andes were in 
sight ! This was inspiriting intelligence to the whole party ; 
for small had been our daily progress, though continual and 
severe the labour. The river increased, in rapidity, while 
but little diminution had taken place in the quantity of 
water brought down : the breadth was rather less, certainly, 
but the depth in most places greater. No fish had yet been 
caught ; indeed, only two had been seen, and those seemed to 
be hke trout. 

30th. The snowy summits of the distant Cordillera were 
more distinctly seen from the heights, near the river, that rise 


about a thousand feet above its level, which, there, is about 
three hundred feet above that of the sea. Two guanacoes 
were shot with my rifle by H. Fuller,* who hastened to the 
boats for assistance. Some of our party went directly with 
him to bring in the animals, but condors and cara- caras-[- 
had eaten every morsel of the flesh of one ; though the other 
was found untouched and brought to the boats. Four hours 
had sufficed to the cara-caras and condors for the cleaning of 
every bone. | When our party reached the spot some of those 
great birds were so heavily laden that they could hardly hop 
away from the place. The guanaco that was eaten by the 
birds must have been, by his size, at least fifty pounds heavier 
than any shot by us in Patagonia, therefore about SOOlbs. 
Mr. Darwin and Mr. Stokes had much amusement with these 
animals, upon the heights. Being so much tamer there and 
more numerous, whole flocks were driven by them into nar- 
row defiles, whei'e dozens might have been killed had there 
been more people with guns, lassoes, or balls. 

Though the bed of the river is there so much below the 
level of the stratum of lava,^ it still bears the appearance of 
having worn away its channel, by the continual action of run- 
ning water. The surface of the lava may be considered as the 
natural level of the country, since, when upon it, a plain, 
which seems to the eye horizontal, extends in every direction. 
How wonderful must that immense volcanic action have been 
which spread liquid lava over the surface of such a vast tract 
of country. Did the lava flow from the Cordillera of the 
Andes, or was it thrown out from craters in the low country ? 
Its position with respect to subaqueous deposits, its horizontal 
surface and cellular texture, are reasons, among others, for 
thinking that it was thrown out of the earth, while these plains 
were covered by a depth of sea. 

The valley, or channel of the river, varies here from one 
mile, or less, to about three miles ; but it looks narrower, owing 

* My steward. f A carrion-eating eagle, 

I The animal thus eaten lay on high ground : the other was in a hollow 

§ From ten to twelve hundred feet. 





May 1834. weather — couktry — cordillera. 351 

to the deception caused by high land on each side. Some of 
the views are certainly striking, and, from their locaUty, inte- 
resting ; I could not, however, have believed that the banks 
of any large fresh water river could be so destitute of wood, 
or verdure of any kind, or so little frequented by man, beast,* 
bird, or fish. 

May 1st. The weather was invariably fine during the earlier 
part of our journey ; but this day it began to change, and 
two or three gloomy clouded days were succeeded by a few 
hours only of small rain, and by some strong wind. This night 
• (1st) we slept at the foot of heights whose summits were covered 
with snow, but the temperature was many degrees warmer than 
that of the first nights, when it froze so sharply. There was no 
particular frost after the 21st of April. 

We had great difficulty with the boats on the 2d, the river 
being contracted in width, without any diminution of the body 
of water pouring down. 

On the 3d, we found a more open country, the lava-capped 
heights receding gradually on each side, leaving a vale of flat, 
and apparently good land, from five to fifteen miles in extent. 
The width of the river increased ; on its banks were swampy 
spaces, covered with herbage ; and low earthy cliffs, without 
either shingle or lava, in some places bounded the river. A 
little further, however, the usual arid and stony plains of 
Patagonia were again seen, extending from the banks of the 
river to ranges of hills, about fourteen hundred feet above its 
level, on which the horizontal lava-capping could be distinctly 

In tiie distant west the Cordillera of the Andes stretched 
along the horizon. During three days, we had advanced to- 
wards those far distant mountains, seeing them at times very 
distinctly ; yet this morning our distance seemed nearly as 
great as on the day we first saw their snow-covered summits. 
A long day''s work carried us beyond the flat and into the 
rising country, whose barren appearance I just now mentioned. 

* Excepting guanacoes. 


We were all very tired of the monotonous scene, as well as 
of the labour of hauling the boats along. 

4th. Our provisions being almost exhausted, and the river 
as large as it was beyond the lava country, our allotted time 
being out, and every one weary and foot-sore, I decided upon 
walking overland to the westward, as far as we could go in one 
day, and then setting out on our return to the Beagle. I was 
the more inclined to this step, because the river here made a 
southerly bend, to follow which would have required at least a 
day, without making much westing, and because I thought 
that some of our party might walk in that time at least twice 
as far as they could track the boats, and then return before 
night. To have followed the course of the river two days longer, 
we should have needed all the small remainder of our provi- 
sions, and probably without being enabled to see further than 
we might by one day's walk directly westward. Leaving those 
who were the most tired to take care of the boats, a party 
set out early, in light marching order. A large plain lay 
before us, over which shrubs, very small trees, and bushes were 
sparingly scattered ; yet parts of this plain might be called 
fertile and woody, by comparison with the tracts between us 
and the eastern sea-coast. 

At noon we halted on a rising ground, made observations 
for time, latitude, and bearing ; rested and eat our meal ; on 
a spot which we found to be only sixty miles from the nearest 
water of the Pacific Ocean. The Cordillera of the Andes 
extended along the western side of our view ; the weather was 
very clear, enabling us to discern snow-covered mountains far 
in the north, and also a long way southward ; hence much of 
the range was visible, but of the river we could discern nothing. 
Only from the form of the land could we conclude that at the 
end of the southerly reach I have mentioned, the direction of 
the river is nearly east and- west for a few miles, and that then 
it may turn northward, or rather come from the north along 
the base of the Cordillera. 

There are many reasons for inducing one to suppose that it 
comes not only from the north, but from a considerable dis- 










^t ^ •■SV' ..' 1 • / 


tance northward. At the place where we ceased to ascend the 
stream, the Santa Cruz was almost as large as at the places 
where we passed the first and second nights near the estuary. 
The velocity of the current was still at least six knots an hour ; 
though the depth remained undiminished. The temperature of 
the water was 45°, while that of the air was seldom so high, 
even in the day-time, and at night was usually below the freez- 
ing point. Trees, or rather the trunks of trees, were found 
lying upon the banks, whose water-worn appearance indicated 
that they had been carried far by the stream. The water 
was very free from sediment, though of a whitish blue colour, 
which induces me to suppose that it has been chiefly produced 
by melted snow, or that it has passed through lakes in which 
the sediment it might have brought so far was deposited. 
If filled from the waters of the nearer mountains only, its 
temperature would surely be lower, approaching that of melted 
snow : it would also, in all probability, bring much sediment, 
and would therefore be muddier, and less pure in colour. 

When one considers how large an extent of country there is 
between the River Negro and the Strait of Magalhaens, and 
that through that extensive region only one liver of magnitude 
flows, it may be difiicult to account for the manner in which 
the drainage of the eastern side of the great Cordillera is car- 
ried off, or where the melted snow and occasional heavy rains 

The Gallegos is small, though it runs into a large estuary. 
The Chupat river is very small : that at Port Desire is 
scarcely more than a brook. At times, it is true, these smaller 
rivers are flooded, but theit floods (added to their usual streams) 
seem unequal to carrying ofi" the continual drainage of the 
Andes. South of the Negro only the Santa Cruz flows with 
a full and strong stream throughout the whole year, and my 
idea is that the sources of the river Santa Cruz are not far 
from those of the southern branch of the Neerro, near the 
forty-fifth degree of latitude ; and that it runs at the foot of 
the Andes, southward, through several lakes, until it turns to 
the eastward in the parallel of fifty degrees. 

VOL. II. 2 A 


In Viedma's Diary I find that he heard from the Indians at 
Port San Juhan (in 1782) that the river Santa Cruz flowed 
from a large lake near the Cordillera of the Andes, and that 
there was abundance of wood on its banks. In consequence 
of this information, he went, in November, with a party of 
Spaniards and Indians on horseback, to explore this lake. In 
his way, Viedma crossed the river Chico, which flows into the 
estuary of the Santa Cruz, just above Weddell Blufi: The 
Chico, though small at times and then fordable, was subject, 
the Indians said, to great floods in the spring, when the melt- 
ing snows of the Cordillera over-filled a lake, far in the north- 
west, whence this river ran. Afterwards, Viedma crossed the 
river Chaha, which they told him rose in another lake near the 
Cordillera, was likewise subject to floods, and emptied itself 
into the Santa Cruz : when he passed, it was only up to the 
horses'' knees (after searching many leagues, however, for a 
ford), but at his return it was deeper. This Chalia can be no 
other than the stream which flows through Basalt Glen, a mere 
brook when we saw it in the dryest season of the year. Viedma 
reached the lake,* and found every thing correspond to the 
description ; for it was deep and large, surrounded by snow- 
covered mountains, on which were many forests. 

Some persons have doubted whether there is ever much 
drainage to be carried off* from the eastern side of the Andes, 
between the parallels of forty and fifty ; but if they will take 
the trouble to read Viedma's Diary, and some other notices 
to be found in the work of Don Pedro de Angehs, I think 
they will be convinced that there is always a considerable drain- 
age, and that at times there are heavy floods to be carried oW.f 

• Called Capar, or Viedma. MS. Chart. 

t As one proof of this assertion, I may quote a passage from Viedma: 
— " Reconocido pues todo" (all that there was to see in the neighbour- 
hood of the lake whence the Santa Cruz flowed), " nos expusd el Indio 
Patricio nos debiamos apartar luego de aquf, porque eon los vientos faer- 
tes, y el sol, solia derretirse tanta nieve que era imposible vadear los arro- 
yos para regresar, y tendriamos que pasar el verano en aquel pasage hasta 
que las beladas empezasen.'' — (Uiario de Viedma, p 57.) 

1834. LEVEL OF RIVER — BONES. 355 

Reference to the accompanying plan will shew our position 
when we halted, and I decided to i-eturn, not having explored, 
I should think, more than one-third of its course. At that place 
the level of the river was found to be four hundred feet higher 
than that of the sea at the entrance ; and as the distance is 
about two hundred miles,* the average descent or fall of the 
water must be near two feet in a mile, which, I apprehend, is 
unusually great. I could not, indeed, believe that the compu- 
tation and data were correct, until after repeated examination.-f- 
Two barometers were used at the river-side, and a very good 
one was carefully watched on board the Beagle.J Certainly, 
the rapid descent of the river, in many places, was such, that 
even to the eye it appeared to be running down-hill ; and this 
remark Avas often made in the course of our journey. 

Two days before we reached our westernmost point, many 
traces of an old Indian encampment were seen ; but excepting 
at that place and at the spot Avhich we passed on the 22d, no 
signs of inhabitants were any where found. Scarcity of pas- 
ture, and the badness of the ground for their horses' feet, 
must deter Indians from remaining in this neighbourhood; 
but that they frequently cross the river, when travelling, 
is well known. 

The quantities of bones heaped together, or scattered near 
the river, in so many places which we passed, excited conjec- 
tures as to what had collected them. Do guanacoes approach the 
river to drink when they are dying .? or are the bones remains 
of animals eaten by lions or by Indians ? or are they washed 
together by floods ? Certain it is they are remarkably numerous 
near the banks of the river ; but not so elsewhere. 

I can hardly think that the guanaco is often allowed to die 
a natural death; for pumas are always on the alert to seize 
invalid stragglers from the herd. At night the guanacoes choose 
the clearest places for sleeping, lying down together like sheep ; 
and in the day they avoid thickets, and all such places as might 

* Following- the course of the river. 

t The data will he found in the Appendix. X At the level of the sea, 

2 a2 


shelter their ever-watchful enemy. Condors, also, and fierce 
little wild cats* help to prevent too great an increase of this 
beautiful, inoffensive, and useful animal. 

Late on the 4th we returned to our tents, thoroughly tired 
by a daily succession of hard work, and long walks. At this 
bivouac we were about one hundred and forty miles, in a 
straight line, from the estuary of Santa Cruz, or from Wed- 
dell Bluff; and about two hundred and forty-five miles dis- 
tant by the course of the river. Our station at noon on the 
4th, was eight miles in a straight line farther westward, and 
about thirty miles from the Cordillera of the Andes. The 
height of those mountains was from five to seven thousand feet 
above our level, by angular measurement with a theodolite. 
Early on the 5th we began the rapid descent. Sometimes the 
wind favoured, and we passed the land at the rate of ten knots 
an hour ; sometimes dangerous places obliged us to turn the 
boat's head to the stream, pull against it, and so drop down 
between the rocks. Though easy, the return was far more 
dangerous than our ascent of the river. 

5th. Our first day's work in returning was a distance of eighty- 
five miles, which had cost us six days hard labour in ascending. 
Next day we made good about eighty-two miles ; and on the 
7th we reached the salt water. Although we made such 
quick progress in returning, our halts for observations were 
similar to those made in going. While descending the rapid 
stream, so quickly and quietly, we saw many more guanacoes 
and ostriches than we had seen before ; but our flying shots 
only frightened them, and time was too precious to admit of 
any delay. Only one fish was got, and that was a dead one, 
which had been left on the bank : it was similar to a trout. 
Not more than half a dozen live fish were seen, and none could 
be caught either with hooks or nets. Leaving a very small 
party near Weddell Bluff to look for guanacoes, I hastened ori 
board with the boats ; and with the ebb tide reached the Beagle 
before noon on the 8th. The ship being ready for sea, except- 

• Though the wild cat could not injure a full-grown animal, it might 
destroy a young one with great ease. 


ing a ton or two of fresh water, the yawl and cutter were dis- 
patched to get it and bring on board the shooting party. Dur- 
ing my absence satisfactory observations on the tides had been 
made, which showed that the neap tides rise about eighteen 
feet, and the springs from thirty-eight to forty-two feet. One 
day when walking through a woody ravine, not far from the 
anchorage, Mr. Stewart saw a puma lying under a bush, glar- 
ing at him : taking a steady aim, he fired, and laid the animal 
dead. It was a very large one ; and the skin is now in the British 
Museum, The moment of thus looking a lion in the face, while 
taking aim, at only a few yards distance, must be somewhat 
trying to the nerves, I should imagine. A beautiful wild cat 
was also added to our collections, besides condors and foxes. 

9th. The boats, and shooting party, arrived with water and 
two guanacoes. As the sportsmen were returning with their 
burthens on the preceding evening, darkness overtook them 
while yet distant from their tent ; and they were soon made 
uncomfortably* conscious that an enemy was at hand, for the 
strong and peculiar smell of a lion warned them that one was 
near. They trudged on with their cargoes, talking to one 
another ; but the scent was still strong until they approached 
the fire, which had been kept up by their companion, when it 
ceased entirely. Such a weight as a lion's, added suddenly to 
that of a guanaco, would have been rather distressing. 

We were detained for a day or two by an overcast sky, which 
prevented my obtaining equal altitudes ; but on the 12th the 
Beagle left the Santa Cruz, and stood towards the alleged place 
of the shoal, or rock, called ' Aigle,' not far from the western- 
most of the Falkland Islands. No such danger, nor any sign of 
shallow water being found, but, on the contrary, no bottom with 
one hundred fathonjs of line, we steered towards Magalhaens 
Strait, and on the 18th anchored off Cape Virgins. Next morn- 
ing I landed on the Cape, taking Mr. Darwin and Mr. Stokes 
with me, and remained tiU after the noon observation, when, 
returning on board, the Beagle weighed and sailed to another 
station. From this time (till the 25th) we were busily em- 
* Being only two in number. 


ployed in sounding in the neighbourhood of Cape Virgins, 
Point Catherine, Lomas Bay, and Possession Bay. 

On the 23d, at day-light, we saw the Adventure coming 
from the Falklands. After communicating with us, she went 
on to survey the portion of coast extending from Sweepstakes 
Foreland to Cape Monmouth ; and we remained to complete 
our own task of sounding the banks about the First Narrow, 
and examining the south shore of St. Philip Bay. On the 3d 
of June both vessels were moored in Port Famine, preparing 
for their passage to San Carlos in Chiloe. 

The next chapter will take the Beag-le into the Pacific by a route not 
hitherto used, except by sealing vessels : although it possesses many 
advantages over either the passage round Cape Horn, or that through 
the western reaches of the Strait of Magalhaens. Mr. Low is said to 
be the first discoverer of it, and he certainly was the first to pass through 
in a ship ; but I think one of the Saxe Cobourg's boats had passed 
through it previously, and 1 much question whether Sir Francis Drake's 
shallop did not go by that opening into the Strait of Magalhaens in 

Before I finally leave Tierra del Fuego, a remark or two may here 
be made respecting the language of the natives. ' Pichi,' in the Huilli- 
che or Araucanian language, means 'small ' or ' a little,' and 're' sig- 
nifies ' only,' ' but,' ' purely,' or ' simply.' Hence, Pecheray, always 
uttered in a begging, or whining tone, may have some such signification. 
In Beauchesne's voyage it is said, that the natives in the Eastern parts 
of Magalhaens Strait were called ' Laguedi-che,' and those westward, 
' Haveguedi-che.'t These words are to me very interesting, because I 
suppose the first to be a corruption of Laque-che, which means, in Arau- 
canian, ' People with balls ' (bolas), and the second is not far removed 
from Huapi-gulu-che, which means ' people of mountainous islands 
heaped together,' terms respectively most appropriate for natives of 
eastern and western Tierra del Fuego. 

* See Burney, vol. i. p. 368 and p. 327, where he shows that Drake 
discovered Cape Horn, and anchored near it (in or near St. Martin 
Cove?) in 1578. Another early southern discovery is mentioned in 
vol. ii. p. 198, where it is stated that Dirck Gherritz discovered land 
in 64°. S. in 1591), (part of or near South Shetland?) 

t Voyage of Beauchesne, in Burney's History, vol. iv. p. 378. 

n, a i 


Beagle and Adventure sail from Port Famine through Magdalen and 
Cockburn Channel — Enter Pacific — Death of Mr. Rowlett— Chiloe 
— Chile — Government— Adventure sold — Consequent changes — Plans 
— Mr. Low — Chonos — Lieut. Sulivan's party — Moraleda — Ladrilleros 
■ — DeVea — Sharp — San Andres — Vallenar — Mr Stokes — San Este- 
van — ; Distressed sailors — Anna Pink Bay — Port Low — Potatoes — 
Indian names — Huafo — Volcano — Chilotes — Aborigines — Militia — 
Freebooters— Climate — Docks — Tides — Witchcraft — Alerse — Cal- 
bucanos — Cesares — Search for men — Meteors. 

June 9th. Good equal altitudes having been obtained, after 
an interval of time sufficient for rating our chronometers,* 
we sailed from Port Famine, went down the Magdalen Chan- 
nel, enjoying some fine scenery, among which Sarmiento was 
pre-eminent, and anchored in a cove under Cape Turn. The 
following day we beat to windward through the Cockburn 
Channel, and would have anchored at night had a safe place 
offered in time, but as the only cove near us at dusk was a 
very small one, I preferred leaving that unoccupied for the 
Adventure, and remaining under way in the Beagle. The 
night was long and very dark, small rain fell nearly all the 
time, and squalls from the westward were frequent. There 
were but four square miles in which it was safe to sail to and 
fro after dark, and for fourteen hours we traversed that area 
in every direction. It M^as necessary to keep under a reason- 
able press of sail part of the time, to hold our ground against 
the lee tide ; but with the ebb we had often to bear up and 
run to leeward, when we got too near the islets westward of 
us. In a case of this kind a ship is so much more manage- 
able while going through the water than she is while hove-to, 
and those on board are in general so much more on the alert 
than when the vessel herself seems half asleep, that I have 
always been an advocate for short tacks under manageable sail, 
so as to keep as much as possible near the same place, in pre- 
ference to heaving-to and drifting. 

* The Adventure iiad four chronometers. 

360 DEATH or ur. rowlktt. June 

When the day at last broke on the 11th, we saw the Adven- 
ture coming out to us from the cove where she had passed the 
night, and then both vessels sailed out of the Channel, past 
Mount Skyring and all the Furies, as fast as sails could urge 
them. At sunset we were near the Tower Rocks,* and with 
a fresh north-west Avind stood out into the Pacific, with every 
inch of canvas set which we could carry. 

On the 26th we were still together, in latitude 43° and lon- 
gitude 75°, although gales had occasionally separated us for a 
few hours. After passing the latitude of 45° we had a succes- 
sion of bad weather, and adverse (N.W.) winds. Trusting 
too much to our usual good fortune I had steered in too direct 
a line towards Childe, and in consequence all these north-west 
winds were against us. Had I shaped a course which would have 
taken us farther from the land, while we had the wind south- 
ward of west, we might have made a fair wind of these pro- 
vokins north-westers, and arrived at Chiloe at least a week 
sooner. A few remarks upon the wind and weather, between 
the parallels of forty and forty-seven, off Childe and the 
Chonos Archipelago, will be found in the Appendix (No. 19). 

On the 27th we witnessed the last moments of Mr. Row- 
lett's existence in this world. He had long been sinking under 
an internal complaint of which it was impossible to cure him, 
except by a vigorous and uniform mode of treatment to which 
he was not willing- to conform until too late : but his illness had 
no relation whatever to the service in which he had been em- 
ployed. He was much" regretted by all of us, having been a 
kind, honourable friend. The following day we committed the 
body of our deceased companion to the seaman's grave, that 
" ever-changing and mysterious main." In the evening we 
were near the north-west end of Childe, and at midnight an 
anchor was let go in our former berth, off Point Arena. The 
Adventure arrived two days afterwards, her main-boom having 
broken in a heavy squall on the 27th, in consequence of which 
she got to leeward, and was prevented from sooner weathering 
the north end of the island. A supply of fresh provisions 
* Not far from Cape Noir, on Noir Island. 



and good rates for the chronometers were obtained, after 
which we sailed (14th July) for Valparaiso, and arrived there 
together on the 22d. 

My first object would have been, after seeing the vessels 
securely moored, to go to Santiago, present my instructions 
in the proper quarter, and ask for the sanction of the Chilian 
government, in prosecuting the survey of the coasts of Chile ; 
but I was so much in arrear with respect to computations and 
charts, that I could not venture to give even a week to an 
excursion to that agreeable place, where a thousand attractive 
novelties would inevitably have diverted my attention in some 
measure from the dull routine of calculation, and attention 
to the data accumulated by many months' exertion of those 
on board the Adventure, as well as in the Beagle ; therefore I 
sent Lieutenant Wickham, who spoke Spanish, and had been 
at Santiago before, to show my instructions to the Authorities, 
and request their approval of our examination of the shores 
under their jurisdiction. Nothing could be more satisfactory 
than the reply (Appendix No. 20), and from that time until 
the Beagle left Chile she received every attention and assist- 
ance which the Chihan officers could afford. 

As I proposed to remain at Valparaiso during the winter 
months, Messrs. Stokes, King, Usborne, and myself, whose oc- 
cupation would be sedentary and would require room, as well 
as more hght and quiet than we could always have on board, 
took up our quarters on shore ; while those on board attended 
to the refit and provisioning of our vessels. 

At this time I was made to feel and endure a bitter dis- 
appointment ; the mortification it caused preyed deeply, and 
the regret is still vivid. I found that it would be impossible 
for me to maintain the Adventure much longer: my own 
means had been taxed, even to involving myself in difficulties, 
and as the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty did not 
think it proper to give me any assistance, I saw that all my 
cherished hopes of examining many groups of islands in the 
Pacific, besides making a complete survey of the Chilian 
and Peruvian shores, must utterly fail. I had asked to be 


allowed to bear twenty additional seamen on the Beagle's 
books, whose pay and provisions would then be provided by 
Government, being willing to defray every other expense 
myself; but even this was refused. As soon as my mind was 
made up, after a most painful struggle, I discharged the 
Adventure's crew, took the officers back to the Beagle, and 
sold the vessel.* 

Early in November our charts of the eastern coasts of Pata- 
gonia and Tierra del Fuego, as well as those of the Falkland 
Islands (the work of the Adventure) were finished, and shipped 
off for England ; and on the 10th we sailed, alone, to resume 
our more active occupations on the southern coasts. My former 
intention was to have filled up all blanks in the charts of the 
outer west coast of Patagonia, between the parallels of fifty- 
three and forty-eight, and then carried a connected survey along 
the coast to the equator ; after which the Galapagos Islands ; 
Dangerous Archipelago; Marquesas, Society, Friendly, and 
Feejee Islands ; besides New Zealand ; were to have had as 
earnest an examination as could be effected by both vessels 
during 1836 and part of 1837. That this plan might have 
been carried out by the divisions of labour and exertions of 
the Beagle and her tender may, I think, be inferred from 
what has actually been executed with inferior means and 
in much less time. But my reduced arrangements were on 
a much smaller scale : I could only look to the most useful 
objects that might be effected within the limited time to which 
I dared to look forward. 

All on board partook, more or less, of the mortification caused 
by parting with our consort, just as she was most wanted, and 
most able to take an effective part ; and I confess that my own 
feelings and health were so much altered in consequence — so 
deprived of their former elasticity and soundness — that I could 
myself no longer bear the thoughts of such a prolonged sepa- 
ration from my country, as I had encouraged others to think 

• Though her sale was very ill-managed, parth' owing to my being 
dispirited and careless, she brought 7j5U0 dollars, nearly i 1,-100, and is 
now (1838) trading on that coast, in sound condition. 

1834. PLANS FOR FUTURK — MR. LOW. 363 

lightly of, while I could hold out to them the prospect of seeing 
as well as doing a great deal among the islands of the Pacific, 
besides completing the surveys of Chile and Peru. 

I now proposed, first, to go to San Carlos, there set two 
of our boats at work among; the islands eastward of the large 
island, while the Beagle would survey the more exposed coasts, 
those to the west and south ; then the ship was to examine 
the seaward shores of the Chonos archipelago, while another 
of her boats was employed among those islands ; and, the 
Chonos explored, she would return to San Carlos, collect her 
scattered parties, and proceed along the coast, northwards, 
taking all the ports and islands in her way. 

On the 21 st we arrived at San Carlos, and were pleased to 
find that Mr. Low had returned safe from his difficult under- 
taking ; and that a person (Mr. Douglas) whom I had engaged 
to make an excursion to Calbuco and into the forests of 'Alerse,' 
on the Cordillera of the Andes, had also come back with the 
required information, and was ready to engage himself to act 
as a pilot and interpreter. 

When last at San Carlos I proposed to Mr. Low, then serving 
as pilot on board the Adventure, to pass the time of our absence 
at Valparaiso, in exploring part of the Chonos Archipelago 
with a whale-boat belonging to me, and a crew of natives 
(Chilotes). Low, ever restless and enterprising, entered eagerly 
into my views ; so furnishing him with money, a chart, and a 
few instruments, I explained where I wished him to go, and 
when he should be again at San Carlos, all further arrange- 
ment being left to him. 

Mr. Low hired a crew of six men,* and set out. After he 
had quitted the southernmost place at which provisions could 
be procured, called Caylin, or ' El fin de la Christiandad,' one 
of his men-f" persuaded some of the othersj to eat up the stock 

* A Welshman, two Chilotes, a Chilian, and two Sandwich Islanders 
who had been left at San Carlos by a whaler. t The Chilian. 

J The Chilotes and Sandwich Islanders. Taffy remained faithful : he 
and Low, being able-bodied active men, frijj htened the rest into reluctant 


t)f provisions in the boat as soon as possible, in order that they 
might be obliged to return without going far. But Low was 
too much inured to hardship to be so easily diverted from his 
plan ; he went on, directly south, even after his provisions 
were consumed ; obliging them to live for fourteen days upon 
shell-fish and sea-weed. After exploring much of the Chonos 
Archipelago, sufficiently to facilitate our survey materially, he 
returned with his hungry crew to Caylin. 

24th. Lieutenant Sulivan set out with the yawl and a whale- 
boat, to survey the east side of Chiloe and the islets in the 
Gulf of Ancud.* With him were Messrs. Darwin, Usborne, 
Stewart and Kent ; Douglas as a pilot, and ten men. Two days 
afterwards, the Beagle sailed, to examine the western coast of 
Chiloe, and the Chonos Archipelago. 

Dec. 2d. While standing towards distant mountainous land, 
about the latitude of 45°, we saw a comparatively low and level 
island ;-|- considerably detached from those which seemed like 
Tierra del Fuego, being a range of irregular mountains and 
hills, forming apparently a continuous coast. This level island 
I have since ascertained to be that formerly called Nuestra 
Senora del Socorro, where Narborough anchored and landed, in 
1670. It was selected in 1740, by Anson, as a rendezvous for 
his squadron ; but no one seemed to know where to look for it : 
the Anna Pink having made the land in 45°. 35', and the unfor- 
tunate Wager in 47°, near Cape Tres Montes. Narborough 
mentions seeing ' an old Indian hut"" on this island ; and in a 
MS. journal, written by Moraleda| (now in my possession) 
it is said that the former natives of the Chonos used to make 
annual excursions to that as well as other outlying islands. 
After witnessing the distance to which savages venture in such 
frail canoes as those of Tierra del Fuego, it does not surprise 
one to find them going fifteen or twenty miles across an open 

• Orders in Appendix, No. 21. 

t About three or four hundred feet in height, excepting one hill, which 
is seven hundred feet. 

+ MS. Diary of Moraleda's examination of Chiloe and part of the 
Chonos Islands in 1787-93, given to me at Lima, by a friend to whom I 
am much indebted for valuable information. 


space of sea in such large canoes as those of the Chonos Indians, 
which are indeed boats. Fuegian wigwams have been found 
upon Staten Land and upon Noir Island, each of which is as 
far from any neighbouring coast as Socorro is from the nearest 

While Narborough's ship was under sail, near Socorro, he 
went in his boat to the island which is nearest to it, by him 
named Narborough Island.* There he landed, and took posses- 
sion for his Majesty and his heirs.-|" 

3d. Having passed the night quietly at single anchor, near 
the north-east point of Socorro, we weighed and continued 
our route to and fro along the coast, taking angles, soundings, 
and observations. On the 5th, we were near Huafo,J which, 
to our surprise, we found to be twenty-five miles farther north 
than the Spanish charts (following Moraleda) showed its 
position, yet the longitude was almost correct. In a small cove, 
near the south-east point of Huafo, we anchored, but broke a 
bower-anchor in doing so ; for the cove is small — an unexpected 
puff of wind gave us too much way — and dropping the bower 
in haste, it fell upon a rock, and broke. § Only two days before 
another anchor was broken, near Socorro, by the ship pitcliing 
while a short scope of cable was out, and the anchor hooking to 
a rock. I found, on landing, that the formation of the island, 
like that of Socorro and Narborough Island, is a soft sandstone? 
which can be cut with a knife as easily as a cake of chocolate. 

• " Neither the chart in Ulloa, nor any of the Spanish charts lately in 
Hse, show the name of N.S. del Socorro to any island near the coast here- 
abouts. The Spanish Atlas of 1798, places an island very near the coast> 
in 44° 50' S. latitude, which in shape and situation answers nearly to Nar- 
borough's description of the island, to which he gave his own name." — 
(Burney, vol. iii. p. 360. Note.) 

t " I saw no kind of mineral in it. Not finding this island noted in 
any draught (chart), I called it after my own name, Narbrough Island, 
and took possession of it for his Majesty and his heirs." — (Narborough's 
Voyage to Patagonia and Chile, in 1669-1671.) 

{ Called by Narborough " No-man's Island." 

§ Or between two rocks, so that the first sudden strain snapped the 


These three outlying islands are thickly wooded, rather level, 
compared with their neighbours, and not exceeding eight hun- 
dred feet in heiglit. There are few, if any others, like tliem in 
the Chonos Archipelago ; almost all the rest, however portions 
of some may resemble them, being mountainous, and very like 
those of Tierra del Fuego and the west coast of Patagonia, 
beyond 47° south; therefore I need only remark, that the 
vegetation is more luxuriant ; that there is a slight difference in 
it, consequent probably upon a milder climate; that some 
productions, such as canes and potatoes, &c., are found there 
which do not grow near the Strait of Magalhaens ; and that in 
other respects, as to appearance, nature, and climate, the Chonos 
Archipelago is like Tierra del Fuego in summer. 

We remained a few days in San Pedro harbour ; and on 
the 9th Mr. Sulivan and his party joined us. Next day 
Mr. Stokes and I endeavoured to get to the top of the moun- 
tain named Huampelen, Huamblin, or San Pedro ; but after 
climbing, creeping, struggling, and tumbling about, among 
old decayed trees, strongly interwoven canes, steep, slippery 
places, and treacherous bog, we failed, and gave up the attempt. 
Mr. Darwin, Douglas, and others were with me, but we were 
all foiled. 

11th. Having despatched Mr. Sulivan, with the same party 
excepting Mr. Darwin, we got under weigh, and hastened 
towards the middle of the Chonos group, in order to find a 
port whence Mr. Stokes might set out to explore northwards, 
while I should examine the southern half of the archipelago. 

13th. We succeeded in finding a sheltered, and apparently 
safe anchorage in a road named by me Vallenar, because it 
corresponded in situation to an island so called in an old chart, 
said to be of the Chonos, but which bore no resemblance what- 
ever to them. However, being anxious to remove no " neigh- 
bour's landmark," and retain original names, when they could 
be ascertained, I kept them wherever I was able to do so. As 
to the native names, those given by Indians, I had not the 
means of finding them out, for no inhabitants were seen ; but, 
so far as Moraleda had collected them from his Indian inter- 



preters, and made them known by his chart,* I have scrupu- 
lously followed him.-|- 

16th. Mr. Stokes set out, in a whale-boat, to work north- 
wards, as near the sea-coast as possible, and meet me at a har- 
bour in the Huaytecas group of islands, now called Port Low. 
He was accompanied by Mr. Low, Mr. May,J and four men.§ 
Moraleda, in his diary and chart, describes a channel which 
crosses the Chonos Archipelago, and is called by the natives 
* Ninualac.'ll Through this passage the Chonos Indians used 
to go once or twice a year to inspect the small herds of goats, 
or flocks of sheep which they then had upon those outlying is- 
lands I have already mentioned, namely Huamblin^ (Socorro), 
and Ipun (Narborough) ; as well as upon others, of which I be- 
lieve Lemu, a woody island on the north side of Vallenar Road, 
was one. Moraleda himself explored part of the continent, 
and some of the islands adjacent to it (between 1786 and 1796), 
but he saw nothing of the sea face of the Chonos. What few 
notices of it existed, prior to 1834, were obtained from the 
voyage of Ladrilleros in 1557 ; from the Anna Pink in 1741 ; 
from Machado in 1769 ; and from the Santa Barbara in 1792 ; 
which, when compared together, tended to confuse a hydro- 
grapher more than they assisted him. In Spanish charts of 
the coast from Cape Tres Montes northward to Taitaohao- 
huon (a name long enough to perplex more verbose men than 
sailors) from which all others, of that coast, were copied, that 
portion must have been originally laid down according to mag- 

• Now in my possession. 

t His Huamblin and Ipun I take to be Socono and Narborough 
Islands, but am not certain. 

X Having very little occupation on board, in his own particular line, 
just at that time, Mr. May volunteered to take an oar, as one of the boat's 
crew. § Orders in Appendix, No. 22. 

II " Gran Canal de Ninualac, que atraviese el Archipielago, per el in- 
forme del practice Hueiiupal que casi anualmente la transita con el motivo 
expresado en el Diario."— (Moraleda's MS. Chart, 1795.) 

1[ Huamblin, if, as I suppose it, a corruption of Huampelen, means ' an 
watch,' * posted as a sentinel :' Ipun means ' swept off,' or ' swept away :' 
Lemu means ' wood :' names singularly applicable to each of those islands 


netic, instead of true bearing; and the fragments of know- 
ledge acquired, about the latitude of 46° S., from the master 
of the Anna Pink, the pilot Machado, and the officers of the 
Santa Barbara frigate, clashed so much that their result was 
what we see in the charts hitherto used, a dotted line, and a 
few straggling islands, totally unlike the truth, leading one to 
expect a comparatively open space, whereas there is a succes- 
sion of high and considerable islands, so near one another, that 
from the offing they ' make ' like a solid unbroken coast. 

While on this subject I may remind the reader that besides 
the expeditions above-mentioned, the missionary voyages des- 
cribed by Agueros (Appendix, No. 23), the important under- 
taking of Sarmiento, and the disastrous voyage of the Wager, 
there have been other visitors to the west coast of Patagonia, 
part of whose acquired information, though slight, is upon 

In 1552, two ships, commanded by Don Francisco de UUoa, 
were sent by Valdivia to gain some knowledge of the Strait of 
Magalhaens.* The journal of their voyage is not extant. Five 
years afterwards (in 1557), Don Garcia Hurtado, Viceroy of 
Peru, sent two vessels to examine the southern part of the coast 
of Chile, as far as the Strait of Magalhaens. The commander 
was Juan Ladrilleros, and with him were two pilots, named 
Hernan Gallego and Pedro Gallego. A mutiny took place, 
and one ship deserted, but with the other Ladrilleros persevered, 
passed four months in the Strait at anchor during the winter, 
then reconnoitred the eastern entrance, and afterwards sailed 
back to Chile, where he at last arrived with only one seaman 
and a negro, the rest of his people having perished by expo- 
sure to hardships, by scurvy, or by famine. The principal 
geographical information obtained at so high a price, was some 
slight knowledge of Childe, and the archipelago of islands near 
it. — (Burney, vol. i. p. 246-9.) 

Sarmiento's expedition in 1579-1580, has already been often 
quoted in the first volume of this narrative. 

In 1675 Antonio de Vea was sent from Peru in a ship, 
• Pastene, a Genoese, was, I believe, in this expedition. His MS. 
Journal is said to exist in the archives of Barcelona. 

Dec. 1834. de vea — shakp — cone creek. 369 

accompanied by small barks, as tenders, to reconnoitre the 
Gulf of Trinidad, and the western entrance of Magalhaens 
Strait. De Vea made an examination of those places, and was 
convinced, from the poverty of the land, that no settlement of 
Europeans could be maintained there. One of the Spanish 
barks, with a crew of sixteen men, was wrecked on the small 
islands called Evangelists, at the west entrance of the Strait. 
De Vea returned to Callao in 1767. — (Burney, iv. 76.) 

In 1681, the notorious Sharp anchored in a gulf, surrounded 
by craggy mountains, whose tops were covered with snow, in 
50°. 40'. south latitude ; where " the difference of the rise and 
fall of the tide was seven feet perpendicular."" Sharp named 
the anchorage ShergalFs Harbour, the sound he called English 
Gulf; and the islands adjacent ''Duke of York's Islands." 
The account of this buccaneer's visit is sufficiently connected 
with the object of this volume, to warrant my inserting it in 
the Appendix, copied verbatim from that interesting work, 
invaluable to seamen and hydrogTaphers, Burney 's History of 
the Discoveries in the South Sea.* 

18th Dec. The Beagle weighed and sailed out of Vallenar 
Road, after experiencing the shelter afforded by that anchor- 
age, during a heavy gale from the south-west and southward. 

At day-light on the 20th we were off Cape Tres Montes : 
having a fine day and smooth water, we surveyed the coast 
between that promontory and San Andres Bay, but it became 
dark before an anchorage could be gained. Next morning we 
anchored in a narrow creek,-|- close by a singular cone (1,300 
feet high), an unfaihng landmark. Finding it a place difficult 
to get out of, and not to be recommended, unless in distress, 
we did not stay there long, but moved to a cove at the south- 
west part of the bay.:|: While under sail for this purpose, advan- 

* In this extract from Burney (Appendix No. 23), there is a criticism 
upon a hydrographical error, made by some copyist, which is interest- 
ing to me from its correspondence with what I suspect to have taken 

place in the old charts of Nassau Bay and Cape Horn (See pages 

122, 123.) 

+ Cone Creek. + Christmas Cove. 

VOL. II, O jj 


tage was taken of an interval of moderate weather to run seve- 
ral miles along the coast northward, and back again. Strong 
gales set in afterwards and kept us prisoners several days. This 
Christmas was unlike the last: it was a sombre period. The wind 
blew heavily (though we did not feel it much, being well shel- 
tered) ; all looked dismal around us ; our prospects for the 
future were sadly altered ; and our immediate task was the 
survey of another Tierra del Fuego, a place swampy with rain, 
tormented by storms, without the interest even of population : 
for hitherto we had neither found traces,* nor heard the voices 
of natives. 

28th. Directly the weather would admit, we weighed and 
coasted along till the sun was getting low, when we ran 
under shelter from sea and wind, and anchored in the corner 
of a bay which I afterwards concluded must be the bay or 
port called Stephens, and more properly, San Estevan. While 
we were furling sails, some men were seen on a point of 
land near the ship, making signals to us in a very earnest 
manner. Being di'essed as sailors, it was natural for us to con- 
clude that they were some boat's crew left there to collect seal- 
skins. A boat was sent to them, and directly she touched the 
land they rushed into her, without saying a word, as men 
would if pursued by a dreaded enemy ; and not till they were 
afloat could they compose themselves enough to tell their story. 
They were North American sailors, who had deserted from the 
Frances Henrietta (a whaler of New Bedford), in October 1833. 
When off Cape Tres Montes, but out of sight of land, and 
in the middle af the night, these six men lowered a boat and 
left their ship, intending to coast along until they should arrive 
at Childe. Their first landing was effected on the 18th, but 
owing to negligence the boat was so badly stove that they 
could not repair her, and all their hopes of effecting a coasting 
voyage were thus crushed in the very outset. 

* With one exception. On a height near Cone Creek Mr. Darwin 
found, in a sheltered hollow of the rock, strewed with dry grass, what 
appeared to him the place on which a man had slept. For some time 
this puzzled us considerably : probably a sealer liad slept there. 


Finding it impossible to penetrate far into the country, 
on account of its ruggedness, and thick forests, which, though 
only trifling in height, were almost impervious, they began a 
pilgrimage along-shore ; but it was soon evident, to their dis- 
may, that there were so many arms of the sea to pass round, 
and it was so difficult to walk, or rather climb, along the rocky 
shores, that they must abandon that idea also, and remain 
stationary. To this decision they were perhaps more inclined 
after the death of one of their number; who, in trying to 
cross a chasm between two cliffs, failed in his leap, fell, and 
was dashed to pieces. Their permanent abode was then taken 
up at the point which shelters Port San Estevan, now called 
Rescue Point ; where they passed a year in anxious hope. Of 
course the few provisions which their boat had carried ashore 
were soon exhausted, and for thirteen months they had lived 
only upon seals' flesh, shell-fish, and wild celery : yet those 
five men, when received on board the Beagle, were in better 
condition, as to healthy fleshiness, colour, and actual health, 
than any five individuals belonging to our ship. Few remai'ks 
worth noticing had been made by them, as the only experienced 
man (whose name was John Lawson) lost his life as above-men- 
tioned. There was an almost continual succession of rain and 
wind for several months after their first landing, except from 
the 20th to the 29th of December, which passed without rain : 
in July (1834) they had an extraordinary storm from south- 
west, which began early one morning, after a rainy night with 
northerly wind: and in November (1834) there were twenty-one 
days successively without rain. One day (in May) they saw 
eight vessels sailing northwards together ; excepting which, not 
a sail was ever seen by their aching eyes till the Beagle hove in 
sight. Between San Andres, near which they first landed, and 
San Estevan, the hull of a small vessel was found, quite bedded 
in sand ; she seemed to be about thirty-five tons burthen, from 
thirty to thirty-five feet in the keel, and about sixteen broad. 
She was full-built ; neither coppered nor sheathed. In a cave, 
which had been used as a dwelling, near San Andres, the skull 
of a man was found, and some burned wood. A bracelet of 



beads was lying in the cave, but they noticed notliing else. The 
skull seemed to them to have been that of a black man. No 
animals were seen at any time except deer and nutria, seal and 
otter ; the former were of a reddish colour, with short straight 
horns, and very rough coats : no traces of other quadrupeds 
were observed, nor during the whole fourteen months did they 
ever meet a native human being. They told me that the night 
tides seemed always to be a foot or more higher than those of the 
day, which, as they said, rose from four to seven or eight feet 
perpendicularly. I had intended to explore the interior of 
Port S^n Estevan ; but as they had already done so, and found 
it terminate in a fresh water river, or rather mountain stream, I 
gave up that plan, and sailed next day. 

29th. While examining the coast towards Cape Taytao* (I 
must omit haohuon), we found a very dangerous patch of 
rocks, -f- five miles from the nearest land ; there are soundings 
near them. In the evening we dropped our anchor under Inche- 
mo Island ; an interesting locality, because there the Anna Pink 
anchored before she was drifted across the adjacent bay into 
Port Refuge (in 1741). 

30th. On landing- an old wooden hut was discovered in 
a sheltered corner, and we found that the island was over- 
run with goats, which I suppose to have been left by the 
Santa Barbara's crew, if not by Machado's people. While 
Mr. Stokes and I were engaged with the instruments, and two 
boats sounding, a couple of guns were sent against the goats, 
and in consequence of their effectual employment in the hands 
of Mr. Bynoe and H. Fuller, all on board had a good fresh meal 
the next two days. After noon we sailed across the Bay,;]: 
and found a snug, though very small cove,§ where we moored 
in security, and remained till the 4th of January, exploring the 
neighbourhood — an unprofitable wilderness of rocky moun- 
tains, woody and swampy valleys, islands and rocks in pro- 

* Cape Taytao is a high bold promontory. 

t Hellyer Rocks. 

I Now called Anna Pink Bay. 

§ Patch Cove. 

Jan. 1835. pout refuge — san hafael. 373 

fusion, and inlets or arms of the sea penetrating in every 

On the 4th we moved to Port Refuge, a safe, but out of the 
way place. In the " narrative of what befel the Anna Pink," 
given in Anson's Voyage, this harbour is described in very 
glowing colours ; but we may remember that those who dis- 
covered it, were there saved from destruction ; and naturally 
looked upon all things around them with excited feelings.* 
How the officers of the Santa Barbara made their survey of 
this port and its neighbourhood I am at a loss to know ; a 
mere eye-sketch, drawn upon the spot, might have been much 
better than that which they gave to the world as a mathema- 
tical plan. In their distorted representation of Port Refuge, 
many soundings have been scattered, apparently at random, and 
quite at variance with truth. This is so unlike most Spanish 
works of a similar nature, some of which are very accurate,-f- 
considering the date of their manufacture, and the means em- 
ployed, — that I conclude the officers of that frigate, not under- 
standing marine surveying, merely drew rough sketches of 
what they saw, which were afterwards ' cooked' into a more 
regular ' appearance,' by some one who was not on board with 
them. Had time allowed I should have explored the Gulf of 
San Rafael, at the back of Tres Montes Peninsula,:|: but know- 
ing that it could only be an object of geographical, not imme- 
diately practical interest to do so, I refrained from indulging 
mere curiosity, much as I desired to corroborate the account 
of Spanish missionaries who often went there, crossing tlie 
Isthmus of Ofqui, in search of Indians aiuong the Guaianeco 
islands, and even farther south, of whom they might make 
converts to Christianity. Doubtless some of these voyages 
were undertaken and completed with benevolent and single- 
minded intentions; but I suspect that others were conducted 
on a different principle; and that their chief object was to 
procure able-bodied slaves to be employed in the mines of 

* Anson's Voyage, chapter iii. 

t Exclusive of mistakes made by compilers or translators. 

I Appendix, No. 24. 

374 PORT LOW — sTOKEs's JOURNAL. Jan. 

Chiloe or Southern Chile. I should be glad to learn that this 
suspicion is ill-founded.* 

On the 7th we anchored in Port Low, and found Mr. Stokes 
just arrived, after a fagging cruise among the Chonos islands. 
His journal contains a great deal of information, from which 
I have extracted those passages most likely to interest the gene- 
ral reader. 

His whale-boat was so loaded at starting (16th Dec.) that 
her gunwale amidships was but a foot above water. She was 
twenty-five feet long and six feet broad, and then carried seven 
men, besides instruments and a month's provisions. Of water 
she had only two ' barecas,' because on that coast fresh water is 
only too plentiful. In passing a promontory, the following 
day, while their boat was still deep, the swell became so great 
that Mr. Low said he had never before been in a boat exposed 
to greater danger. 

In some places where they landed the woods were so thick 
that Mr. Stokes was obliged to climb trees to get angles ; and 
not being able to tell previously which would answer his pur- 
pose, sometimes he made three or four useless ascents, before 
he could obtain a view : " but," he says " there is a pleasure I 
cannot express in roaming over places never visited by civilized 
man." On Rowlett Island potatoes were found growing wild ; 
the largest dug up measured two inches in length, and an inch 
in thickness: they were quite tasteless. 

At the east side of Ipun, on Narborough Island, an excellent 
small port was found, which was named Scotchwell Harbour. 
On the shore, near it, was a large bed of strawberries, like those 
that grow in English woods ; and there was a sweet-scented 
pea, besides abundance of other vegetable produce, both her- 
bage and wood, and plenty of water. 

" Hitherto, all the islands we had seen were of slate-rock, 
some parts so soft, that I could break them easily with my 
finger, and I found that they blacked my hand, like plumbago ; 

• It is difficult to account for the present abandoned state of these 
regions, if no harsh usage was expcriijnced by their former natives. 


but Ipun is quite different in structure, being an earthy sand- 

Syzygial high water at Ipun takes place at noon, and the 
tide rises six or eight feet. The flood-tide conaes from the 

At May Harbour (which may be the Bello Dique of the 
Santa Barbara), many cypress trees were noticed, for the first 
time hereabouts, and a svirprising number of otters. The tide 
rose seven feet. About the Huaytecas Islands, the northern- 
most of the Archipelago, quantities of excellent oysters were 
found, quite as good as any sold in London. No quadrupeds 
were seen, except nutria and otters, which were numerous. 
Their numbers, and the quantity of birds, show that Indians 
do not now frequent that quarter ; indeed, no traces of them 
whatever were found by Mr. Stokes, or any of our party, among 
the Chonos islands. 

10th. While lying at Port Low we caught plenty of fish 
with the seine ; we obtained oysters from neighbouring creeks, 
and shot ducks and geese, so there was no want of fresh pro- 
vision. Some piraguas from Chiloe were in the port : the 
Chilotes in them were in search of otters, seals, and nutria, and 
had come across the gulf of Huafo, in their ill-conditioned ves- 
sels, with no little trepidation. 

On an outlying islet, near Port Low, I first saw the wild 
potato. Next to seeing a wild man, I recollect few objects which 
struck me much more than that group of wild potatoes : — but I 
have neither inclination nor space here to speak of my own 
sensations. The stems, leaves, and flowers of these vegetables 
were as large, and appeared to be as healthy, as those in an 
English garden, but the potatoes at their roots were small, 
watery, and insipid. It ought to be recollected, however, that 
we saw them early in January — corresponding to July — 
many weeks, at least, before one could expect to find eatable 
potatoes in an English field. 

It was remarked in the Chonos islands, as well as in Tierra 
del Fuego, that the trees which grow in thin soil, lying upon 

• Stokes, MS. 


slaty rocks, extend their roots so horizontally that it is not 
surprising to find, running through woodland, broad tracts 
whence the shallow-rooted trees have been swept away, partly 
by wind, partly by the action of mountain-torrents.* As wood 
grows even at the water's edge in those countries, where not 
exposed to the first attack of wind from seaward, and as there 
are so many loose overhanging masses of rock, one cannot be 
surprised at the vast quantities of drift-wood found in some 
places ; or think it improbable for a quadruped to be occa- 
sionally precipitated into the sea, with a falling mass of rocks 
and trees, and afterwards drifted by wind and current to some 
other locality. 

From Port Low we saw a notable mountain, one of the 
Cordillera of the Andes, having three points upon a small flat 
top, about eight thousand feet above the sea. I called it the 
Trident at that time ; but afterwards learned that there are four 
peaks (one of which was hid by another from our point of view), 
and that it is called by the aborigines Meli-moyu, which in 
the Huilli-che language signifies four points. 

Three other remarkable mountains, active volcanoes, are 
visible from the northern Huaytecas islands, as well as from 
Childe ; I mean the Corcobado (hump-backed), of which I do 
not remember the Indian name ; Yanteles (or Yanchinu, which 

* The writer of Anson's voyage, speaking of Juan Fernandez, exactly 
describes the loose state of trees in such places, when he says, " The nor- 
thern part of this island is composed of high, craggy hills, many of them 
inaccessible, though generally covered with trees. The soil of this part is 
loose and shallow, so that very large trees on the hills soon perish for 
want of root, and are then easily overturned, which occasioned the death 
of one of our sailors ; who being upon the hills, in search of goats, caught 
hold of a tree upon a declivity, to assist him in his ascent, and this giving 
way, he immediately rolled down the hill ; and though in his fall he fas- 
tened on another tree of considerable bulk, yet that, too, gave way, and he 
fell among the rocks, and was dashed to pieces. Mr. Brett likewise met 
with an accident, only by resting his back against a tree, near as large 
about as himself, which stood on a slope ; for the tree giving way, he fell 
to a considerable distance, though without receiving any injury." — 
(Anson's Voyage, 8vo. edit,, p. 159.) 


means ' having a shivering, and unnatural heat'), and Minchen- 
madom, which, in the Huilli-che tongue, means ' under a fire- 
brand' ; names so expressive and appropriate as to put to shame 
much of our own nomenclature. Wherever I have been able to 
discover the aboriginal name of a place in South America, and 
could ascertain its meaning, I have been struck by the extreme 
appositeness, as well as by the copious though condensed allu- 
sion usually conveyed. 

In Chiloe and about the north-eastern Chonos Islands, almost 
all the aboriginal names are preserved, because there interpre- 
ters could be procured ; but, of course^ such advantages were 
generally unattainable in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. 
In Chiloe, as in Araucania, every corner and every con- 
spicuous spot, whether land or water, has a particular and 
expressive name, a word usually compounded of two or three 
others : thus, Huapi-quilan means Three Islands : Calbu-co, 
Blue Water; Cauca-huapi, Gull Island; Huechu-cucuy, 
Point Cucuy,* or Grandmother ; Carel-mapu (Cara-el-mapu), 
Bad-city-country ; Petu-cura, middle stone (a rock in Chacao 
Narrow), &c. 

15th. We sailed from Port Low and went to Huafo once 
more, wishing to give Mr. Darwin an opportunity of examining 
it geologically. There are now no inhabitants on that island, 
though there are a good many sheep belonging to Chilotes, 
who live at Caylin. Formerly there were Indians called Huy- 
huen-che,f upon Huafo ; but the Spaniards obliged them to 
quit it, for fear they should give information or supplies to 
English ships. Near the Beagle, when at anchor, there was a 
square place, like an entrance to some cave, seemingly cut 
by man in the soft sand-stone rock ; and I have since often 
reproached myself for having left the place without ascertaining 

* Cucuy is the name of a bird, much noticed by the aborigines because 
its motions are supposed to be ominous : it also means grandmother. 

+ The Huyhuen-che, often called Huyhuenes, were a tribe of Chonos 
Indians, adjoining the Pichi-huilli-che, who lived in the northern portion 
of Chiloe. The word Huyhuen signifies < whistle,' or ' hiss,' or ' to whistle, 
or hiss.' 


its real nature. It may be the entrance to some cave, formerly 
used as a burying-place, similar to those explored by Low, and 
by the surgeon of the Wager. 

On the 17th we sailed, and next day anchored off Point 
Arena, in San Carlos Harbour. Lieutenant Sulivan, with his 
party, had arrived a few days previously, after a very satisfac- 
tory cruise. We found his boats hauled up and refitted, his 
people lodged under their tents, and himself with Mr. Usborne 
busily occupied in my little observatory, laying down the work 
for which they had collected materials. Thus we were again 
assembled in safety, after being considerably divided, and, in 
consequence, exposed to numerous dangers which human pru- 
dence can neither foresee nor prevent. As some soundings were 
still wanted near the English bank, and about the approach to 
San Carlos, we employed the 19th in taking them, on board the 
Beagle, accompanied by her boats, and returned to our usual 
anchorage, close to Point Arena, at dark. 

When sounding on the English bank, we repeatedly tried to 
ascertain its nature by forcing a very long iron lance down- 
wards as far as possible. The instrument penetrated about two 
feet into sand in all instances but one, when it was stopped 
abruptly by a substance which bent the lance and turned its 
point. It did not, however, feel like rock, rather, I should say, 
like hard wood.* This hard place was about a square yard in 
extent, and all around was sand. 

In the night, or rather from two to three the following 
morning, Osorao was observed in eruption, throwing up bril- 
liant jets of flame or ignited matter, high into the darkness, 
while lava flowed down its steep sides in torrents, which from 
our distance (seventy-three miles) looked merely like red lines. 
Daybreak diminished the effect, and as the light increased only 
a dark column of smoke could be discerned. This mountain 
is one of the most striking in form which I ever saw. It is not 
only quite conical from the base to the summit, but it is so 
sharply pointed that its appearance is very artificial. When seen 

* Mr. Sulivan had the lance in his hand at that time. 

Feb.1835. osoRKo — san carlos — chiloe. 379 

from the sea, at a distance of ninety or a hundred miles, the 
whole of the cone, 6,000 feet in height* at least, and covered 
with snow, stands out in the boldest relief from anion 2: ranges 
of inferior mountains. The apex of this cone being very acute, 
and the cone itself regularly formed, it bears a resemblance to 
a gigantic glass-house ; which similitude is increased not a little 
by the column of smoke so freqviently seen ascending. 

We remained till the 4th of February in the port of San 
Carlos. Mr. Darwin profited by the opportunity afforded to 
make an excursion into the interior of the island, while the 
surveying party were occupied in arranging data, in laying 
down chart-work, and in taking and calculating observations. 
I paid Douglas for his services and for a variety of informa- 
tion collected for me, from which — from Lieut. Sulivan's 
journal — and from my own notes — I shall now add such few 
notices of Chiloe as I think may be interesting, and which 
have not been already introduced in the first volume, (pp. 

Various accounts have been given of the characters and 
dispositions of the Chilotes. Some have said that they are a 
noble, industrious, and docile race ; others that they ate dis- 
honest, idle, and ill-disposed : to reconcile these contradictory 
accounts is, therefore, at first sight, rather perplexing. There 
are four distinct classes of inhabitants in Chiloe and the adja- 
cent islands ;-f- the aboriginal Huyhuen-che, or Chonos ; the 
Huilli-che, who came from southern Chile ; the foreigners, 
those neither born in Chiloe nor descended from Chilotes; and 
the Creoles. Of these the Chonos are now nearly lost : in con- 
sequence of disease and emigration they have by degrees aban- 
doned not only Chiloe but the adjacent Chonos islands, and 
are only found southward. Some Indians to the south-west 
of Castro, in the interior of the island near the lake Cucao, 

* The volcano of Osorno, or Purraraque, or Huenauca, is 7,5^0 feet 
above the sea level. 

t The smaller islands of the Archipelago of Chiloe, those in the gulf 
between Chil6e and the main-land, called the Gulf of Ancoed or Ancud. 


are under the nominal jurisdiction of their own caciques: 
whether they are Chonos or Huilli-che, I did not ascertain 
clearly. Being a race who are naturally little inclined to cul- 
tivate the soil, and preferring a comparatively idle life among 
muscles, seal, and fish, to voluntary labour on their own 
account, with a considerable degree of compulsory toil for the 
Spanish Government and priests, they quitted Chiloe in suc- 
cessive families. From them, probably, are derived the glim- 
merings of religion, and the crosses among the Indians of Madre 
de Dios, and other parts of the west coast of Patagonia. That 
their canoes or rather piraguas, should be similar to those 
of Chiloe seems natural enough ; but the fact is that the 
Chonos people taught the Huilli-che how to make them.* 
Coming from an inland district near Valdivia, the Huilli-che 
had never required boats, though they knew how to cultivate 
potatoes, maize, and beans ; how to make ' ponchos,' and take 
care of sheep and cattle. These, though more industrious, 
and in some respects better members of society, are a tame and 
docile race compared witli the Chonos, whose spirit of inde- 
pendence has shown itself in their migration, and impatience 
of mis-government. 

The principal population of Chiloe is now Huilli-che, no- 
minally Christian but painfully ignorant of pure Christianity- 
Abandoned to the crooked direction of ungodly pastors, intent 
upon their own worldly interest instead of the welfare of their 
flock, extorting ' primicias'-f- and tithes from poor Indians, 
whom they scarcely see once in a year (I speak advisedly) — and 
taught only the Romish doctrine in its worst form ; can any 
one expect the poor Chilotes to be really religious and conse- 
quently moral ? That they should be extremely superstitious 
is much more probable, and such is the fact. Their's is a 
confused demi-religion, in which a medley of ideas concerning 
the Virgin Mary, saints, images, and mtches,| is found far 

* These piraguas are extremely like the Madras surf-boats. (See 
vol. i. p. 285, for a description of the piragua. 

t First fi-uits of everything, animal as well as vegetable. 
X They are implicit believers in witchcraft. 


more often than any clear reference to our Saviour or the 

In the foregoing remarks on the Roman Catholic priests at 
Chiloe whom I conversed with and heard much about between 
1829 and 1835, I do not include all. There was certainly one 
man (I hope there were more) whom I believe to have been as 
sincerely pious, and therefore good, as any Roman Catholic, 
but there were others whose lives scandalized even their nomi- 
nal Christianity. 

The foreigners settled in Chiloe of course resemble their 
own countrymen as to morals and habits, not being likely to 
take example from the Indians : and the Creoles adopt their 
ideas as hastily as our milliners adopt French fashions. But 
there is a virtue in Chiloe, which if sins could be atoned for 
by the good works of man alone, would go far towards pur- 
chasing good treatment and very slight purgatory for the souls 
of Chilotes : I mean the warm-hearted kindness shewn to one 
another, and particularly to strangers. Conspicuous as such 
a feeling of hospitality and disinterested good-nature is among 
the descendants of Spaniards in South America, it is no where 
more to be observed than in Chiloe, 

Increased intercourse with other countries is annually dimi- 
nishing the local peculiarities of Chilote society, a remarkable 
one being that of transacting mercantile business by barter, 
for want of current coin. Planks of alerse, indigo, tobacco, 
pepper, salt, &c. were substitutes for silver and gold in 1829, 
excepting among a very few foreigners or comparatively rich 
descendants of Spaniards and Creoles. At that time it was 
extremely difficult to get a few dollars in exchange for a bill 
upon good security at Valparaiso, even at the exorbitant price 
of sixty-pence English for each dollar. In 1834, so much 
had the state of trade improved at San Carlos, that there was 
no difficulty in obtaining as many dollars as we wanted for forty- 
eight pence each. 

In the first volume most of the products of Chiloe are men- 
tioned, except fish and coal. Of the shell-fish there is a full 


account, but I may here add that smelt, mullet, a kind of 
bass, and other fish are plentiful during the summer months- 
The natives often catch ntiany more than they want by placing 
very simple weirs across creeks at high-water, with a passage 
in the middle, which is shut when the tide begins to ebb. 
Some of these weirs are rough stone walls (on a small scale), 
others are wattled like hurdles. The number of fish kept 
back by them and left dry, as the water falls, is really sur- 
prising. Seals are now rare, and whales are fast diminishing 
in numbers. There is a good deal of coal in Chiloe, but I am 
told that it is of an inferior description, like that of Concep- 
cion. Geologists say it is not true coal : lignite would be a 
more appropriate term. Be this as it may I tried some of it* 
in my cabin stove, and found it burn readily, though what I 
had was a lump taken from the surface of the ground. The 
Chilotes scarcely noticed it then, having so much wood around 
them, but a day may arrive in which its value may be better 

Next to San Carlos,-f- in size and population, is Castro, the 
former seat of Government, which has dwindled to a mere 
village. Chacao, where the governor afterwards resided, is 
only a hamlet. Remains of a town, such as lines of streets 
and the ruins of a church,- are visible, but there are now 
only a few stragghng cottages and a ruinous chapel. It is 
said, on the spot, that the former church of Chacao was burned 
by the old Spaniards, to oblige the natives to quit the place 
and go to San Carlos. Castro, formerly styled a city, now 
consists of two or three short streets of bad wooden houses 
and two churches : one of which was built by the Jesuits more 
than a hundred years ago, and is fast decaying though 
' shored up ^ (supported by props) on all sides. 

The first discovery of Chiloe was made by Spaniards in 
1558, one of whom was Ercilla. Enthusiastic in every thing, 
the warrior-poet tells us that he ran to a tree, half-a-mile south 

• Obtained for me by Mr. Robert Williams from the neighbourhood of 
San Carlos. t Described in vol. i. p. 274-5. 


of the place where his companions halted, and cut some lines 
on the bark.* 

The populous state of Chiloe, in 1558, when first visited 
by Europeans may be estimated by Ercilla's description, allow- 
ing for poetical license. All accounts agree in stating that the 
Chonos Indians, or Huyhuen-che, were once very numerous. 
" Era un ancho archipielago poblado 

De innumerables islas deleytosas, 

Cruzando por el uno y otro lado 

Gondolas y piraguas presurosas : 

Llego una corva gondola ligera 
De doce largos remos impelida." 

La Aeaucana, Cantos xxxv and xxxvi. 

That the Spaniards then with Ercilla, were thought to be 
deities, is shown by the following lines : — 

" Hombres, o Dioses riisticos, nacidos 
En estos sacros bosques y montaiias, 
Por celeste influencia producidos," &c. 

Ideji, Canto xxxvi. 

Some years afterwards (in 1566) Castro was founded, to be 
the capital, and Chacao for a sea-port. From this time till 
about 1633 mines were worked in Chiloe, but then discon- 
tinued, partly because they were less productive than those of 
Chile, and partly on account of the difficulty of obtaining 
labourers after a raging epidemic had carried off one-third of 
the aboriginal inhabitants ; and fear of infection as well as 
horror of the mining slavery, had driven away a large portion 
of the residue.-}- About this time the Huilli-che were carried to 

* " Aqui llego, donde otro no ha llegado, 
Don Alonso de Ercilla, que el priuiero 
En un pequeno barco deslastrado 
Con solos diez, pas6 el desaguadero 
El aiio de cincuenta y ocho entrado 
Sobre mil y quinientos por Hebrero, 
A las dos de la tarde el postrer dia, 
Volviendo a la dexada compania." 

La Araucana, Canto xxxvi. 
t These were Huyhuenes, or Chonos, vrhose place was afterwards 
supplied by Huilli-che from southern Chile. 


Chiloe, in addition to those who liad accompanied the fugitives 
from Osorno (in 1599 — 1604) to Calbuco, Carel-mapu, and 
thence to Chiloe ; who being a docile patient race, accustomed 
to agriculture, increased rapidly and supplanted the Chonos 

We read in the narrative of Brouwer's voyage (1643) that 
the port which the Dutch called Brouwer's Haven, was by 
some called Chilova, and by others English Haven : and in 
1624, according to Agiieros (quoting D. Cosrae Bueno), 
Englishmen were on this coast : but I think it more probable 
that the Bank Ingles and Port Ingles, near San Carlos, ob- 
tained those names from Wilham Adams, in 1599,* rather 
than from them. In the Dutch chart published with the 
journal, this island is called Chiloue, and the adjacent gulf, 
Ankaos, or Ancoed.-f- Brouwer alarmed the inhabitants of 
Chiloe not a little, but they were even more frightened and 
harassed before that time by Cordes, in 1600 ; Spilbergen, in 
1615 ; and afterwards by Shelvocke, in 1719 ; besides others. 

To guard against, or rather watch for such visitors, as 
well as to obtain the earliest intelligence of an enemy being on 
the coast, the Spaniards established look-out stations in com- 

* Voyage of Five Ships of Rotterdam, Burney, vol, ii. p. 193. (sup- 
posing- 46° should be 42° S.) 

+ I mention this to show that the accent, or stress, was then upon the 
second syllable of that name, not upon the third. The name Chil6e is 
derived from Chilue, or, more striotly speaking-, from Chili-hue (see 
Agueros and MolinaJ, which means ' farther,' or ' new,' or 'the end of 
Chili, and ought, by derivation, to have the accent, as Agiieros placed it, 
on the o. No reason can be given by a Spaniard for placing an accent 
on the final e of that word, yet it is almost generally placed there. My 
own idea is that the French traders to Chile in 1700— 1780, first placed an 
accent on the e in writing, and that Feuillee, Frezier, and others have 
been followed without inquiry. Had not the stress been laid on the o, 
surely the natives of Chiloe would have been called Chiloetes, or Chiloe- 
nos, instead of Chilotes. As to the name Chile, every one knows it is 
derived from the Indian word Chili, (Herrera, Ovalle, Agiieros, Mo- 
lina, &c.) but why it was altered by the Spaniards to Chile, I have never 
been able to discover. 


iTianding positions and outer points, such as Cocotue heights, 
Guabun Head, and Point Centinela ; but at the present time 
no such precautions being thought necessary, there is a supine 
indifference to molestation. 

Wherever Mr. Sulivan went with our boats, nearly all the 
Indians showed an anxiety for the island to be again under the 
dominion of Old Spain, and asserted that they were much 
happier and more prosperous before the revolution than they 
had ever been since. In a place where he passed two days 
(Huildad) there was an unusual difficulty in obtaining provi- 
sions, and it was accounted for by the natives in the follow- 
ing manner: the proprietor of the tithes had just been there, 
and had taken from them, in sheep and pigs, the full tenth, 
not only of those animals, but of the growing crops of corn, 
apples, and potatoes. He had taken away all that the poor 
people could be deprived of, excepting only what was abso- 
lutely necessary as stock for next year's supply. 

Lieut. Suhvan says, in his journal : — " Besides the tithes, 
they have also to give 'first fruits' to the priests, and so hard 
are they on their parishioners, with respect to tithes and first 
fruits, that whether the yearly produce be bad or good, the 
same quantity must be contributed to swell the revenue of a 
person whom they seldom see, except at the times of collection." 

This oppression, however, is not allowed by the superiors of 
theChurch, when it is duly represented and proved: for not long 
ago a curate was dismissed from his parish in Childe, because 
he was a severe extortioner : I was informed that d urine five 
years that man had amassed more than thirty thousand dol- 
lars.* Some of the natives complained bitterly to Lieut. 
Sulivan of the task- work they were compelled to perform. 

At Lemuy he met a small piragua with only three men in 
it, who were on their way from Castx'o to Quelan. They had 
walked across the island from San Carlos where they had been 
working at the new mole, which all the ' militia'f were obhged 

* The number stated to me was 35,000; 

t Every able-bodied native man is enrolled in the local militia, and 
obliged to work thus till disabled by infirmity. 
VOL. n. 2 c 


to do in turn, each man a fortnight : part of which time was 
allowed for the journey. These three had worked eight days, 
finding themselves in everything and receiving no pay ; two 
were old men : one more than sixty years of age ; and the 
third was the oldest man''s son. They all declaimed against 
the so-called ' Patriots ' (Chilians) very vehemently, and asked 
repeatedly when they might hope to see the Spanish flag hoisted 
again. The old man had been a cacique, and under the 
Spanish authority had charge of a watch-house and a small 
party of men, on Point Centinela : but directly the Spaniards 
were overthrown he was made a private militia-man — " not to 
fight," he said, " but to work." If any public work was in 
progress, a party of militia-men were ordered to it, in their 
respective turns : and if the commandant had a friend to 
oblige, who wanted a job done, he would order a man to work 
at it for a week, when another would take his place, and so 
on. For these services no pay was given. The old man said 
that they were paid in money for every service performed when 
under the Spaniards ; and he could hardly be made to believe 
that there was no prospect of their returning. 

There is a marked difference of climate between the east 
and west sides of Chiloe, as to quantity of rain and wind. 
A proportion of both appears to be arrested (as it were) on 
the windward side of the heights, so that the neighbourhood 
of Castro and the islands in the Gulf of Ancud, enjoy much 
finer weather than is met with about San Carlos. But even 
there the inhabitants say a change has taken place gradually, 
and that they have not now nearly so much rain as used to fall 
formerly. ' They attribute this to the wood being cleared away, 
not only on Chiloe itself, but on the neighbouring Cordillera. 
There is an idea prevalent in Chiloe that, after a great erup- 
tion of Osomo in particular, or indeed of any of the neigh- 
bouring volcanoes, fine weather is sure to follow. Without 
denying the possibility of some such correspondence, I should 
incline to think that there have been accidental coincidences ; 
and that fine weather occurring about or soon after those 
times, has been more remarked than at other periods. 

1835. AI.AU—CALBUCO— DOCKS. 387 

On the little uninhabited island, Chiut, in the middle of 
Ancud Gulf, Mr. Sulivan found a great number of wild straw- 
berries : they were not very good, being unripe. Near the 
islands beyond Chiut (called Desertas), on the shore of the 
main-land, he saw several piraguas stranded, evidently during 
a late gale, as their crews were engaged in repairing them on 
the beach. 

In the island Alau, Lieut. Sulivan met an old native, about 
112 years of age ; who had great-grandchildren about him, 
from twelve to fourteen years old. His eyesight and intel- 
lectual faculties were still good, and he walked firmly. From 
the inhabitants of Alau, Mr. Sulivan heard that an English 
armed brig, accompanied by a Spanish vessel of war, had an- 
chored at that island about seventy years before 1835 (1765). 
Our boats visited Calbuco, and happening to arrive during the 
time of Mass, found nobody stirring. At last one man came 
out of church — ran back instantly — as if to tell the news, and 
immediately hundreds came pouring out to see the strangers. 

Calbuco, called also El Fuerte, is much superior to Castro 
in appearance as well as size. It ranks next to San Carlos, in 
consequence to the Chilotes. Near here it was that friendly 
Indians helping the distressed inhabitants of Osorno to escape 
from the Araucanians (1599-1605), raised a cry of Calbu-co 
(blue water), when, emerging from the woodland, they caught 
a glimpse of the sea. 

Our party examined places on the east coast of Chiloe, where 
docks might be constructed, or vessels laid ashore with much 
facility, as the tide rises from fifteen to twenty-five feet in 
several land-locked coves where the swell of the ocean never 

Round Chiloe the flood tide-streams run both ways, from the 
south-west ; and meet in the north-west part of Ancud Gulf; 
the times of syzygial high water, in all the archipelago, vary 
only from noon to an hour and half after noon. In December 
and January our boat expedition found that the night tides were 
always higher than those of the day, and the inhabitants said 
that was always the case in summer. In the months of July and 
VOL. n. 2 <■ 2 


August 18^ the day tides .were higher than the night, I am 
quite certain ; and an old Biscayan, resident near point A rena, 
told me that they were always so in winter : hence we may 
conclude they are regularly higher at that time of year. 

I refrain from entering here into many very interesting 
customs of the Huilli-che, because they are almost the same 
as those of the Araucanian Indians, about whom so much has 
been sung or said by Ercilla, Molina, and others, because 
my pages are limited, there being still information of a newer 
character to be written ; but I would ask the reader, who may 
feel interested about the migrations of our race, to compare 
such customs with those of the Polynesian islanders, especially 
that of the ' Minga,' and making ' Cava.' * 

The superstitious ideas, arising out of a debased Romish 
doctrine, have not deprived the Huilli-che of their belief in 
witchcraft, a belief held in common with all ignorant nations. 
Mr. Douglas, in his MS. Journal, says : — " No Chilote doubts 
the existence of wizards (bruxos) . When I was a magistrate, 
a complaint was made to me of a young woman who, they 
asserted, had tried to bewitch a young man. The witnesses 
stated that she had bought from a professed witch (bruxa) a 
charm (llapui), which was produced in evidence. It consisted 
of a piece of loadstone, with iron filings adhering to it ; some 
fish-scales ; some hair and soap suds, proved to have been on 
the young man's face, and sold by the barber ; some parings of 
his nails ; a small dead lizard ; some slips of a peculiar tree ; 
and many other ingredients. With this charm, with two pre- 
pai-ed apples, and a bottle half full of a liquid mixed by the 
witch, she proposed to win the young man's affections to such 
a degree that he would give her all his property. The liquid 
appeared to be a decoction of the deadly nightshade, and some 
poisonous ferns. The witnesses stated also, that this witch had 
a lantern made of the skin of a still-born child, which she 
lighted with a candle that burned with a blue flame ; and gave 

* The Minga is described in Molina, and Spanish authors. For an 
excellent discussion respecting the Cava, see Burney — Brouwer's Voyage, 
1643, vol iii. p. 137, 8, 9. 

1835. ' BRUXOS ' — WIZARDS — TREASURE. 389 

out sparks, when the witch flew througli the air from place to 

" I have been informed," continues Mr. Douglas, " upon in- 
disputable authority, that such lanterns do exist ; and that when 
two or more witches wish to communicate by signal, one of them 
ties a lantern to a long pole, and throws it up and down very 
quickly, making the sparks fly. The other then makes similar 
use of her lantern, at a considerable distance, and those who 
casually see the lights, think that a witch has flown from one 
place to the other. The magical ai't of the wizard is often exer- 
cised in a search for hidden treasure. There are some places 
where, in a dark night, inflammable gas, or phosphoric light, is 
seen, near theground, not like a Will-o'-th'-wisp of Europe, but 
a clear steady light, of a white, yellow, or red colour. Popular 
superstition ascribes these lights to the ghosts of departed 
misers, watching their hidden treasure ; and when one is dis- 
covered by any person, he calls a friend to assist him and 
watch it, about the time of new moon, until they ascertain 
the spot whence it proceeds ; and there they dig in search of an 
anticipated heap of gold or silver. Not succeeding (of course), 
they apply to a wizard, who pretends to discover where the 
treasure lies, and what it is, by looking earnestly into a smooth 
slab of black stone (which I suppose to be basalt). The wizard 
may not himself find the prize, nor may he be present at the 
search ; but, after telling the people where and when to dig, 
he takes good care to alarm and frighten them away in some 
strange manner, just at the moment they expect to grasp the 
store of gold. Among other devices, the wizard, or witch, 
pretends to cover a worsted thread with quicksilver, and hold- 
ing it over the supposed place, allows the quicksilver to run 
off into the ground, and then he desires them to dig till they find 
the quicksilver, thus affording time for creating some sudden 
alarm, wliich they attribute to the ' devoto,' or familiar spirit 
of the deceased. It is believed by some that I am able to dis- 
cover hidden treasure, and for my amusement I have more than 
once made an experiment before them, by sticking up two stakes 
in a line towards the light ; then going a quarter of a circle 

390 cALBUCANo's MODE OF LIFE. Jan. Feb. 

round it, I stuck up two more stakes, also in a line towards it ; 
and next day followed tlie lines to their crossing, at which spot 
I dug, and about two feet underground found a decayed tree." 
(Whence a gaseous exhalation ?) 

Mr. Douglas's account of the life of an industrious Calbu- 
cano* is interesting. He says, that those who are called ' hom- 
bres de bien ' (honest men) are generally the sons of worthy 
parents, and who marry, wliile young, some hard-working sober 
woman. Such a pair, as one of these men and his wife, sow 
some corn and plant potatoes, then leave the land, with their 
house, in the care of an old relation, and go to the Cordillera 
to work in an astillero.f If their luck is good, that is, if they 
find plenty of fine, straight grained trees, not farther than usual 
from the sea,J this pair will cut and bring down five hundred 
boards in a month ; then returning home they clean the potato 
grounds, and attend to domestic affairs, until their feet heal, 
and a paralytic motion of the legs, acquired in the astiUero, 
has ceased. When quite refreshed they go for another cargo, 
and work till their legs and feet can stand it no longer. A third 
trip is afterwards made by the husband, for about a fortnight, 
to a nearer astiUero, where he cuts pieces of timber and plank 
of as large a size as he can carry (tablones y cuartones), then 
returns to collect his harvest, make chicha, and sow com for 
next year. The winter months are passed in comparative in- 
activity, but not without due consumption of cider and pota- 
toes. Occasionally the Calbucano goes to San Carlos, to sell, 
or rather barter his boards for indigo, tobacco, red pepper, 
clothes, axes, spirits, &c. ; and on these occasions, as well as 
when they go from Calbuco to the continent, several unite 
together to man a piragua, in the manner described by Cap- 
tain King, vol. i, p. 285-6. 

Directly his children are able to walk a few miles, he takes 
them with him to the astiUero ; begins by giving them two 
half-boards to carry, and as they grow stronger, increases their 

• Native of Calbuco. 

+ A timber-yard : or a place where alerse is cut down, on the flanks 
of the Cordillera of the Andes. J From three to five miles. 


load. At about sixteen they borrow an axe, and make the 
boards they afterwards carry. The alerse forests are like mines 
to the Calbucano ; and nothing but old age or accident can 
check him from making boards after he has had one season of 
good luck. The profitable parts of the forests are now, of 
course, much farther from the sea than they were, owing to 
constant thinning. To get a load of twenty boards twice as 
much labour is therefore required as was necessary for a similar 
purpose thirty years ago. The largest alerse tree that has been 
found by any Calbucano during the last forty years, measured 
thirty feet in girth, at five feet from the ground ; and more than 
seventy-six feet to the first branches. This famous tree gave 
eight lengths of boards and half a length. The two largest trees 
seen by Mr. Douglas, in his excursion for me, measured one 
twenty-four, and the other twenty-two feet round, at five feet 
from the ground: but these were dead trees, hollow in the centre. 
He saw none above ten feet in circumference, that were quite 
sound. Report, however, says, that in the Cordillera, out of 
reach of the Calbuco woodsmen, there are enormous trees, from 
thirty to forty feet in girth, and from eighty to ninety feet in 
height to the first branches, above which the heads of those 
giant trees are said to rise some forty or fifty feet. The alerse 
has short, stout branches, with leaves hke those of a pine, in 
their bluish green colour, but shorter, being only half an inch 
long, and one-twentieth of an inch wide : on one stem there 
are four rows of these small leaves, at opposite sides. 

Captain King has fully described the alerse (vol. i, p. 282-3), 
and the manner of making the boards. I will add a few no- 
tices of the way in which it is obtained. 

In carrying his load along many miles of bad road from an 
' astillero,' to the nearest water conveyance, the Calbucano 
weai-s a sheep-skin on his shoulders, under a woollen shirt, and 
taking a stick, with its lower end forked,* he trudges along 

* To steady him across bridges of single trees, thrown over ravines, 
as well as to assist in supporting the load. Sometimes they climb up or 
down precipices with their loads, by a fallen tree, notched to receive 
the feet. 

392 LOADS — LAND-SLIPS — ' CESARES.^ Jan. Feb. 

with the load on one shoulder, and on the other the stick, which 
partly supports the weight till one shoulder is tired ; he then 
shifts the burthen to the other, and goes on. This half rest is 
called ' cantuntun,'' After eight, ten, or twelve of these, 
according to his strength, and the road, he casts down the 
load, and rests about ten minutes. This is his 'descanso ;"* and 
he makes about one such every two or three miles. The astil- 
lero of Melipulli is ten ' descansos,'' a whole day's journey, from 
the place of embarkation. In examining the different forests 
of alerse, Mr. Douglas saw some immense land-sKps (quechi), 
one of which was said to have brought down one thousand 
alerses, some of them being five fathoms round near the roots. 
This land-slip measured seven hundred yards in length and 
three hundred yards in width. 

Mr. Douglas finds much fault with the manner in which the 
Chilotes associate for a voyage, or any joint undertaking. He 
says, " their voyages being planned like a commonwealth, it 
follows that their government on board must be republican, 
and the consequence is that every thing is decided by most 
votes and most noise." He also complains of their extreme 
selfishness, and of their reluctance to do any thing, however 
trifling, for a neighbour, unless for a consideration ; another 
evil consequence of democratic inclinations. 

When Moraleda was about Chiloe he went across the cor- 
dillera to the lake Nahuel-huapi, in quest of information rela- 
tive to the ' Cesares ;' but he could hear nothing positive 
about any such city or people, from the Indians whom he met 
near that lake — well known to the Spaniards as a Jesuit mis- 
sionary station. Mr. Douglas's father-in-law* once commanded 
a party sent from Chiloe to look for this reported city of ' Cesa- 
res.'f He got over and beyond the CordiUera to an elevated 
plain, where he saw a very large number of Indian huts (tol- 
dos), placed so as to form regular streets. Near them were 
large droves of horses and cattle, and small patches of culti- 

• A Spaniard of Castile. 

t Pon Pedro de Angelis, of Buenos Ayres, has collected and published 
a great number of documents relating to the ' Cesares.' 


vated ground : but he had no time to make further remarks, 
for his party was discovered, vigorously attacked and driven 
back, with loss, to the sea. The old man said the climate and 
soil of that plain were better than those of Chiloe : and, as a 
proof of it, he found Indian corn with from five to nine large 
heads, though in Chiloe the same kind of plant only bears 
from one to three small heads. 

A few of the remarks relative to Chiloe, contained in the 
preceding pages, arose out of an excursion made by me, in 
1829, among the neighbouring islands : and many of the 
other notices mentioned by Captain King (vol. i.) or myself, 
and given in the narrative as they were received from our 
associates, were corroborated by what I then witnessed. The 
excursion alluded to was undertaken in consequence of two 
carpenters belonging to the Beagle being enticed to desert by a 
Roman Catholic priest named Forastes, who not only afforded 
them the means of travelling to Castro and Lemuy, but hid 
them on his own premises afterwards; and, when he heard that 
I was seeking for them among the islands, sent them across the 
gulf of Ancud, in a piragua, to remain in a cove near the Cor- 
covado until the search should be over. One of these men was 
not worth taking trouble about ; but the other was a man who 
had borne a high character, and had a wife and children in 
England depending upon him for support. I was satisfied that 
this man (Wells) had not deserted until overcome by extraor- 
dinary temptation and the evil advice of his companion, and 
determined to do my utmost to recover him. He had pay due 
for several years'' service, and his ' servitude time' * was consi- 

I despatched Mr. Kirke overland to Castro for intelligence ; 
and set out in a light whale-boat, with five men, all as eager as 
I was myself to rescue their shipmate from the deceitful allure- 
ments of Padre Forastes. As a carpenter, also, every one was 
well aware, that his recovery was of much consequence to our 
small vessel, in a place where we could not obtain a substitute. 

• For the pension granted to seamen in the Royal Navy after twenty- 
one years' servitude. 

394 SCHOOLS — VAQUEANO. -A-Ug. Sept. 

While visiting various islands I was much struck by the 
good order and cheerful alertness of several schools of boys, 
and by the apparent respectability of their teachers : and I was 
informed that these schools were much fostered by General 
Aldunate and his worthy secretary, Forelius (a Swede). 

Nothing could be more pleasing than the appearance of the 
islands ; all highly cultivated, and thickly peopled by a quiet 
race of men, apparently industrious, certainly most obliging 
and hospitable. 

At Lemuy I heard that the fugitives had just left Chelin 
and Quehuy, in a piragua belonging to one Antonio Vargas, 
and were gone to the Cordillera, somewhere near the Corcovado, 
to kill seals and collect oil for him and Padre Forastes, until 
we should leave Chiloe, when they would return and work for 
the priest. This information cost me an ounce of gold, given 
to Vargas''s own brother : and for six dollars, in advance, with 
a promise of more, I engaged a guide (vaqueano) to go with me 
to the main land. This man had no idea of moving by night ; 
but, understanding clearly that the piragua was gone to an 
inlet under the Corcovado Mountain, I sailed at once across the 
gulf, steering by the hght of the volcano, much to the terror 
of our vaqueano, who shrunk down to the bottom of the 
boat, drew his poncho over his head, and kept muttering 
prayers, sometimes to the Virgin and his ' devoto' (patron 
saint), sometimes to ' bruxos;' but never ventured to look up 
at the large sail, or watch the boat reeling through the waves, 
as she sailed across with a fi-esh westerly wind. 

After a variety of petty difficulties and disappointments, and 
searching every inlet within twenty miles of the Corcovado, 
without finding a trace of the fugitives, I at last abandoned 
the pursuit and returned to San Carlos ; having relanded our 
unhappy vaqueano, who, while close to the land, had been use- 
ful ; but whom we had ruined, he often asserted, by obliging 
him to promise away all his property in masses, in offerings to 
saints, and in presents to ' bruxos' for his safe deliverance from 
such continual peril. After hearing such a melancholy state- 
ment of his prospects, I added a present to his earnings, which 

1829-1835. DESERTERS — METEORS. 395 

he assured me would amply satisfy both ' bruxos' and ' de- 
votos,' and left him, notwithstanding his temporary fears, a 
happy man. 

In 1834 I learned that we had actually been within a boat's 
length of the deserters on one occasion, and that they had made 
up their minds to yield unconditionally. They were hidden in 
some thick bushes on the borders of an inlet* under the Cor- 
covado, and their piragua was hauled up behind a rock, out of 
immediate observation. 

It is now high time to quit Chiloe, and proceed along the 
coast northward : but before I do so, let me take advantage 
of this opportunity to express the gratitude of those with me, 
as well as of myself, for a succession of private assistance and 
sincere kindness experienced from many persons at San Carlos, 
whose names I refrain from mentioning, because I have a great 
dislike even to the idea of publishing any thing that occurs in 
the unreserved intercourse of friends. 

* Palbitad, or Almangrande. 

Extraordinary meteoric appearances have occasionally been noticed 
about Chiloe, and the islands southward of it. In describing' theCarel- 
mapu earthquake, of 1633, AgUeros says that torrents of rain followed ; 
and that on a high hill near the town was seen a globe of fire, which rose 
for a short interval, and then fell into the sea : the waters of which were 
in consequence much disturbed. A violent tempest ensued, with hail 
larger than musket-balls. 

Another remarkable earthquake happened thereabouts on the 23d — ^24th 
of December, 1737 : and on the 30th, in the early part of the evening, 
a great exhalation or cloud of fire was seen passing, from north to south, 
over all the archipelago. It fell on the Huayteca islands, covered them 
with ashes, and burned up the vegetation to such a degree that it wa* 
only in 1750, that the islands began again to look green. — Agiieros, 
pp. 102, 104, 105. 

In Sarmiento's voyage an appearance of a similar nature is mentioned, 
as having been seen near the Strait of Magalhaens : (Viage al Estrecho 
de Magallanes, p. 205). — Other authorities might be quoted. 


Leave Chiloe — Valdivia — Earthquake — Aborigines — Traditions — 
Words — Convicts— Tolten — Boroa — Imperial — Mocha — Shocks of 
Earthquake — Anchor oif Talcahuano — Ruins — Account of a great 
Earthquake which destroyed the city of Concepcion : and was felt 
from Chil6e to Copiapo ; from Juan Fernandas to Mendoza. 

At daylight on the 5th of February the Beagle sailed from 
Chiloe, and passed along the coast of southern Chile, towards 
the port of Valdivia. This is a bold and high tract of land, 
without a danger for shipping to avoid ; but, at the same time, 
without a safe anchorage between the ports above-mentioned. 
Soundings extend some miles into the offing, though the water 
is deep. At two miles westward of this shore we usually found 
about forty fathoms water ; at three miles about sixty, and at 
five miles from seventy to eighty or ninety fathoms, with a 
soft, sandy, or muddy bottom. 

Whenever, as in this case, we were obliged to carry on the 
survey without landing, our observations for latitude — often 
those for time also — were made at the opposite points of the 
horizon, as well as in the usual manner, when land did not 
intervene, and the mean results taken as the most correct. In 
this way, it is probable that errors occasioned by refraction 
were in a considerable degree avoided.* 

The day before arriving at Valdivia we had a strong nor- 
therly wind, with cold, rainy weather, though the glasses were 
high. Such an anomaly I have elsewhere noticed, especially 
in Tierra del Fuego ; but any attempt to explain it must be 
deferred. Another singularity was the temperature of the 

* We had three sextants, made for me by Worthington, which had 
additional horizon glasses, enabling them to measure any angle less than 
160°. The contrivance was my own, and found to answer. It is des- 
cribed in the Appendix. 


ocean, not being higher than that near the Chonos Archipelago, 
and very little warmer than that of Magalhaens Strait ; this 
fact will also be recurred to again. 

Feb. 8th. We anchored in the deceiving port of Valdivia. 
I say deceiving, because it offers to the eye ample space and 
the utmost security, while, in fact, the safe anchorage is very li- 
mited ; so much mud and sand being brought down by the river 
that extensive banks are formed, and increase yearly. We were 
struck by the apparent strength of the fortresses, built origi- 
nally Ijy the Dutch in 1643, but improved and increased by the 
Spaniards. Now, however, their strength is but apparent ; for 
a closer inspection shows that they are almost in ruins and 
the guns out of order; indeed so nearly disabled, that they 
could hardly fire a salute without danger. Around the port 
are high hills, completely covered with wood ; and they attract 
clouds so much, that almost as great a quantity of rain falls 
there as on the western shores of Childe. Several rivers empty 
themselves at this one mouth, which is the only opening among 
hills that form a barrier between the ocean and an extensive 
tract of champaign country,* reaching to the Cordillera of the 
Andes. The principal of these rivers are the Calla-calla-j- and 
the Cruces; their tributaries are very numerous, few countries 
being better watered by running streams than that about Val- 

Every facility and kindness in his power was offered to us by 
Don Isaac Thompson, the Yntendente : — and by his secretary, 
Don Francisco Solano Perez, I was presented with a rare edition 
of Febres's ' Arte de la Lengua Chilena,' which has been of 
much use in explaining the meaning of aboriginal words and 
names. Don Francisco wished me to take another curious work, 
but I dechned ; and have often regretted since that I did not 
ask him to let me copy a map in it which contained the tracks of 
Spanish missionaries from Castro in Chiloe to the lake of San 
Rafael, isthmus of Ofqui, and archipelago of islands in latitude 

* Called "Los Llanos," or the plains, 
t On which is the town of Valdivia. 


48-9° S. I thought another copy might be found at Lima, but 
during my subsequent stay there, not one could be discovered. 

The town of Valdivia, formerly dignified by the appellation 
of city, disappointed our party extremely. It proved to be no 
more than a stragghng village of wooden houses, surrounded 
with apple-trees ; and the only building, even partially con- 
structed of stone, was a church.* Many of us were in the 
town on the 20th of February, at the time of that great earth- 
quake, wliich ruined so many places besides the city of Con- 
cepcion : an awful event, which will be related in the following 

An English carpenter, who had served on board the Beagle, 
in 1828, but had since settled on the banks of the river Cruces, 
about thirty miles from Valdivia, came on board his old ship 
one day, to see those whom he knew. It happened that I had 
formerly been of some assistance to him, and he was naturally 
glad to oblige me, by giving such information about the coun- 
try and the natives as he was able to impart ; and having lived 
nearly four years among them, his accounts were not only in- 
teresting, but, I think, worthy of credence.-f As some of these 
were confirmed by what I heard from residents at Valdivia, 
and I have no doubt of their truth, I shall mention them with- 
out hesitation in the course of my narrative. 

I was much struck by the peculiar physiognomy of those 
aboriginal natives whom I saw during my stay : and there must 
have been some ground for Mr. Darwin and myself remarking 
at different times, unknown at first to one another, that their 
countenances reminded us of portraits of Charles I. This was 
my impression at the first glance ; but after closer examination 
it wore off, and I thought less of that likeness than I did of 
their resemblance to the Hindoo race. There was neither 
the open honesty of a Patagonian, nor the brutal look of 
most Fuegians ; but there was a sombre cast of depressed 

* That church and other edifices have since been laid in ruins by the 
violent earthquake of Nov. 7) 1837- 

t He was a very intelligent, observing man, and a good workman : while 
belonging to the Beagle, he was rated carpenter's mate. 

i_2/ •Lani^.-azi- toa'sis. 

■y ft [L [© D Y a ft , 

o>h»h»<i ^ Henry Cdbam, 'JdsiX Msa-Tboaragb. Soeel, 1S33. 



intelligence that at once said, " we are restrained, but not sub- 
dued.'" Their countenances were less wide, and more swarthy, 
than those to which our eyes had been accustomed ; and they 
eyed us with a sinister although resolute glance, which seemed 
to ask whether we were also come to try for a share of their 
country. These men were of a middle stature ; and formed 
more slightly than those of the south. They were all tolerably 
clothed in blue cloth of their own manufacture ; and the men 
of different tribes were distinguished by a slight difference in 
dress ; the Juncos, who live south of Valdivia, wearing a sort 
of petticoat, instead of trowsers, while the Rancos, another 
subdivision, wore short loose breeches. In other respects they 
are similar, as to outward appearance, and their language is 
that of all southern Chile.* These Juncos and Rancos are but 
portions of that collection of tribes usually known among Eu- 
ropeans by the celebrated name of Araucanians ; but among the 
natives, by the terms Molu-che, Huilli-che, &c. I certainly gazed 
at these Indians with excessive interest, while I reflected on the 
multiplied sufferings undergone by their ancestors — the num- 
bers that perished in mines — or in trying to defend their coun- 
try — and the insidious attempts made to thin their numbers by 
frequent intoxication, if not by introducing deadly disease.-f* 

To keep these Indians on peaceable terms, and in order to 
have early intelligence of any general combination, the Chilians 
maintain among them ' capitanes de los amigos,' whose apparent 
office is 'to take the part of an Indian, if he should be ill- 
treated by a ChiHan (of Spanish descent), and to interpret 
between parties who wish to barter goods. There is also a 
' comisario de los Indios,' who is a centre of reference for the 
' capitanes,' and who ought to be the friend and protector of 
the aborigines. Many tribes, however, will have nothing to say 
to either the commissary or his captains, seeing through their 
object, and detesting even the descendant of a Spaniard too 
deeply to admit any one of that abhorred race into their 
territory. About Valdivia there are only a few leagues of 
ground held by Chile, excepting which all that magnificent 

* The Huilli-ehe. t By giving them infected things. 


tract of country, reaching from the Gulf of Ancud nearly to 
the river Bio-Bio, probably the finest district in all South 
America, is still kept by the brave Araucanians. 

These Indians are extremely superstitious, but in their rites 
there are curious customs, perhaps indicative of their origin. 
About Valdivia, whenever an aboriginal and heathen native 
dies, he is buried in a small canoe, with a scanty supply of 
provisions and chicha,* on the bank of a river which flows to 
the sea. Their idea is that the spirit goes by water to that 
place, in the direction of the setting sun, whence their remote 
ancestors came. Febres says, in his work before mentioned, 
that the island Mocha is the place meant : but if we reflect 
that Mocha is very small, only twenty miles from the main- 
land, and that when first discovered, early in the sixteenth 
century, it was inhabited by Indians who often crossed over 
to the continent, I think we must look much farther west for 
the place of departed souls to which these people refer. 

The aborigines who live near volcanoes offer propitiatory 
sacrifices to the evil spirit, Pillan, who is said to cause earth- 
quakes and eruptions. They sacrifice buUs and rams to him, 
besides offering fruit, vegetables, and chicha. On a mountain 
called Theghin, or Theg-theghin, (wliich means to crackle or 
sparkle like fire), these people say that their early progenitors 
escaped from the Deluge. There is a word in common use among 
them, meaning ' the great ancestor,' or ' our great ancestors, 
or ' the renowned,' wliich is hardly to be distinguished from 
Shem. Febres spells it ' Them,"' but, as the th is frequently pro- 
nounced, .it would sound like chem.-f- Can this be handed 
down from their ancestor of the Ark .'*]: 

Another word that attracted my notice particularly, was 
' minga.' I have a note by me (unfortunately without the 
proper reference) remarking the resemblance of minga, not 

• Fermented liquor made from maize, apples, or other substances. 

t Molina, Hist. Civil de Chile. Vol. ii. p. 333. Falkner says that the 
Vuta Huilliche substitute t for ch, p. 99. 

J I am informed by Doctor Andrew Smith, that the word Ham is 
still common among the nations of southern Africa, as a distinguishing 

1835. * MINGa' CONVICTS — TOLTEN. 401 

only, in sound but in meaning, to the Hebrew word mincha. 
Molina (p. 333) says that these people have a nasal g, which 
brings the two words to an identity of sound. The Hebrew 
term, I am told, means an offering or collection of fruits, 
liquors, &c. ; and the corresponding Huilli-che word means a 
a feast of which those partake who are about to unite in a 
work for the benefit of him who makes the ' minfja.' In the 
Appendix a few Greek, Latin, and Araucanian words are 
arranged so as to show the remarkable similarity existing 
between them. 

I was told by the Yntendente that some Englishmen had 
arrived in his district a few months before we came, whose 
character and business he did not understand. Rumours had 
reached his ears of their having escaped from one of our 
convict settlements, at the other side of the Pacific, and he 
was inclined to beUeve the report. Three of these men had 
married since their arrival, and all but one were industrious 
members of his community : indeed I saw two of them hard 
at work on a boat belonging to the Yntendente. Having 
however no proof of their delinquency, I did not deem my- 
self authorized to ask him to have them arrested and deli- 
vered up to me, in order that I might convey them to the 
senior British officer at Valparaiso. Afterwards I learned that 
these men, seven or eight in number, had escaped from Van 
Diemen's land in a very small vessel, and sailing always east- 
ward, had at last arrived on the coast near Valdivia, whence 
they were conducted by a fisherman into the port. Even- 
tually they were made prisoners by the ChiHan authorities, 
delivered up to our Commodore, and by him sent to England. 

I was informed that there is coal in many places about Val- 
divia ; but I did not see any. We sailed on the i^2d, after 
receiving, on all occasions, the kindest treatment from the 

As we passed along the low coast about the river Tolten, 
numbers of Indians on horseback, and armed with lances, were 
seen riding along the shore, evidently watching our move- 
ments. This part of the coast is shoal, and at night would 

VOL. 11. D 


be dangerous, for the low land projects considerably, and 
would not then be readily seen. We could not distinguish 
the mouths of eitlier the Tolten or the Imperial (or Cauten) 
quite satisfactorily, but as they are bar rivers — useless to 
shipping — I would not risk anchoring on so exposed a coast, 
or sending a boat away into sudi a surf as we saw breaking, 
without having more time at my disposal and a higher object 
in view. 

On the Cauten was the city called Imperial — celebrated in 
Araucanian story — and near its site now live the Boroa tribe, 
some of whom have light-coloured eyes, fair complexions, and 
even red hair. I saw one of these Indians at Valdivia, who had 
blue eyes, but dark hair. She told me that in her own country, 
' Boroa,'' there were many with eyes like her"'s ; that some were 
' rubios,' that is, of a red and white complexion, and that a few 
had red hair. Her parents had told her, she said, that those 
people were descended from the ' Huincas.''* How the red hair 
originated is rather curious ; I have heard of it from good 
authorities at other times, while in Chile. 

Late on the 24th we anchored at Mocha, and the follow- 
ing week was occupied in surveying its shores and the space 
between them and the inainland.-f- Shocks of earthquakes were 
frequently felt, more or less severely ; sometimes I thought that 
the anchor had been accidentally let go, and the chain was run- 
ning out ; and while at anchor, I often fancied the ship was 
driving, tUl I saw that there was neither swell, current, nor wind 
sufficient to move her from the anchorage. We naturally con- 
cluded that some strange convulsion was working, and anxious 
for the fate of Concepcion, hastened to Talcahuano Bay as 
soon as our duty would allow : arriving there on the 4th of 
March — to our dismay — we saw ruins in every direction. 

The following account of this catastrophe was subsequently 
obtained : — 

At ten in the morning of the 20th of February, very large 
flights of sea-fowl were noticed, passing over the city of Con- 

* An Araacanian name for the Spaniards, signifying assassins. 
1 1 shall recur to Mocha again. 


cepcion, from the sea-coast, towai-ds the intei'ior : and in the 
minds of old inhabitants, well acquainted with the climate 
of Concepcion, some surprise was excited by so unusual and 
simultaneous a change in the habits of those birds,* no signs 
of an approaching storm being visible, nor any expected at 
that season. About eleven, the southerly breeze-f- freshened up 
as usual — the sky was clear, and almost cloudless. At forty mi- 
nutes after eleven,;[ a shock of an earthquake was felt, slightly 
at first, but increasing rapidly. During the first half minute, 
many persons remained in their houses ; but then the convul- 
sive movements were so strong, that the alarm became general, 
and they all rushed into open spaces for safety. The horrid 
motion increased ; people could hardly stand ; buildings waved 
and tottered — suddenly an awful overpowering shock caused 
universal destruction — and in less than six seconds the city was 
in ruins. The stunning noise of falling houses ; the horrible 
cracking of the earth, which opened and shut rapidly and 
repeatedly in numerous places ;§ the desperate heart-rending 
outcries of the people ; the stifling heat ; the blinding, smother- 
ing clouds of dust ; the utter helplessness and confusion ; and 
the extreme horror and alarm, can neither be described nor 
fully imagined. 

This fatal convulsion took place about a minute and a 
half or two minutes after the first shock ; and it lasted for 
nearly two minutes, with equal violence. During this time no 
one could stand unsupported ; people clung to each other, 
to trees, or to posts. Some threw themselves on the ground ; 
but there the motion was so violent that they were obliged to 
stretch out their arms on each side, to prevent being tossed over 
and over. The poultry flew about screaming wildly. Horses 
and other animals were greatly frightened, standing with their 
legs spread out, and their heads down, trembling excessively. 

After the most violent shock ceased, the clouds of dust which 

• Chiefly gulls. t Sea-breeze. 

{ Mean time. Equation=14 m. subtractive from mean time. 
§ The direction of these cracks was not uniform, though generally 
south-east and north-west. 

2d 2 


had been raised by falling buildings, began to disperse ; 
people breathed more freely, and dared to look around them. 
Ghastly and sepulchral was the sight. Had the graves opened 
and given up their dead, their appearance could scarcely have 
been more shocking. Pale and trembling, covered with dust and 
perspiration, they ran from place to place, calling for relations 
and friends ; and many seemed to be quite bereft of reason. 

Considerable shocks continued to harass and alarm at short 
intervals. The earth was never long quiet during that or 
the next day, nor indeed for the three days following the 
great shock ; and during many hours after the ruin, it was 
tremulous, and the shocks were very frequent, though not 
severe. Many of these, but not all, were preceded by a rumbling, 
subterranean noise, like distant thunder. Some compared the 
sound to the distant discharge of many pieces of artillery. 
These noises came from the south-west quarter, and preceded 
the shock by one or two seconds ; sometimes, but not often, 
the sound was unaccompanied by any shock. 

It was the general opinion that the motion was from south- 
west to north-east. Some whole walls, whose direction was 
south-east and north-west, were laid flat, the bricks still main- 
taining their relative position, though end-wise, without being 
scattered upon the ground. These walls fell, without excep- 
tion, to the north-east.* Others were scattered as they fell; 
but still the greatest masses of brick- work were thrown towards 
the north-east. Walls standing in the opposite direction, north- 
east and south-west, suffered far less : none fell bodily or in 
masses ; fragments were shaken or torn off ; and some of the 
walls were very much cracked,-f- but others suffered little. 
Houses built of ' adobes,';}; became confused heaps, and roofs fell 
in every where. The cathedral, whose walls were four feet in 
thickness, supported by great buttresses, and built of good 
brick and mortar,§ suffered more than other buildings. Ad- 

* The streets of Concepcion lie north-east and south-west: north- 
west and south-east. 

+ Vertically, as if by the undulatory movement of the earth's surface in 
the direction of their length. J Large unbaked bricks. 

§ Both bricks and mortar were excellent. 

<i < 

^ - 

6= " 


hering to the remains of the walls were left the lower parts of 
some buttresses — the upper parts of others — while in one place 
a buttress stood on its own foundation, separated entirely from 
the wall. 

The city of Concepcion stands upon a plain, very little higher 
than the level of the river Bio Bio. The soil is loose and allu- 
vial. To the eastward and northward lie rocky irregular hills : 
from the foot of which the loose earth was every where parted 
by the great convulsion, large cracks being left, from an inch 
to more than a foot in width. It seemed as if the low land had 
been separated from the hills, having been more disturbed by 
the shock. 

Women washing in the river near Concepcion were startled 
by the sudden rise of the water — from their ankles to their 
knees — and at the same moment felt the beginning of the con- 
vulsion. It was said that the dogs avoided the ruin, by run- 
ning away before it occurred. This, though known with 
certainty to have been the case at Talcahuano, wants con- 
firmation with respect to Concepcion. Of nine men who were 
repairing the inside of a church, seven were killed, and two 
severely hurt. One of these poor fellows was half-buried in the 
ruins, during five days, with a dead body lying across him, 
through which it was necessary to cut, for his release. A mother, 
escaping with her children, saw one fall into a hole; a wall 
close to her was tottering ; she pushed a piece of wood across 
the hole, and ran on ; the wall fell, covering the hole with 
masses of brick-work ; but, next day, the child was taken out un- 
hurt. Another woman missed a child ; saw that a high wall was 
tottering, but ran for her son, and brought him out. As she 
crossed the street, the wall fell, but they were safe ; when the 
tremendous crash came, the whole street, which she had just 
crossed, was filled up with part of the ruins of the cathedral. 
Besides a waving or undulatory movement, vertical, horizontal, 
and circular or twisting motions were felt. An angular stone 
pinnacle was particularly noticed, which had been turned half 
rovmd, without being thrown down, or leaving its base. 

Persons riding at the time of the great shock, wei'e stopped 


short ; some, with their horses, were thrown to the ground : 
others dismounted, but could not stand. So little was the 
ground at rest after the great destruction, tliat between the 
20th of February and the 4th of March, more than three hun- 
dred shocks were counted. 

Much misery was alleviated by the good conduct and extreme 
hospitality of the inhabitants of Concepcion. Mutual assistance 
was every where rendered, and theft was almost unknown. The 
higher classes immediately set people to work, to' build straw- 
covered huts and temporary houses of board, Uving meanwhile 
in the open air under trees. Those who soonest obtained or 
contrived shelter, collected as many about them as they could 
assist, and in a very few days all had a temporary shelter, under 
which they tried to laugh at their misfortunes and the shifts to 
which they were reduced. 

At Talcahuano the great earthquake was felt as severely on 
the 20th February as in the city of Concepcion. It took place 
at the same time, and in a precisely similar manner : three 
houses only, upon a rocky foundation, escaped the fate of all 
those standing upon the loose sandy soil, which lies between the 
sea-beach and the hills. Nearly all the inhabitants escaped 
uninjured ; but they had scarcely recovered from the sensations 
of the ruinous shocks, when an alarm was given that the sea 
was retiring ! Penco* was not forgotten ; apprehensive of an 
overwhelming wave, they hurried to the hills as fast as possible. 

About half an hour after the shock, when the greater part 
of the population had reached the heights, — the sea having 
retired so much, that all the vessels at anchor, even those which 
had been lying in seven fathoms water, were aground, and 
every rock and shoal in the bay was visible, — an enormous 
wave was seen forcing its way through the western passage 
which separates Quiriquina Island from the mainland. This 
terrific swell passed rapidly along the western side of the Bay 
of Concepcion, sweeping the steep shores of every thing move- 
able within thirty feet (vertically) from high water-mark. It 

* Penco, the first Spanish capital of the province of Concepcion, was 
overwhelmed by the sea in 1730 : and old Concepcion in 1751. 


broke over, dashed along, and whirled about the shipping 
as if they had been light boats ; overflowed the greater part 
of the town, and then rushed back with such a torrent that 
every moveable Avhich the earthquake had not buried under 
heaps of ruins was carried out to sea. In a few minutes, the 
vessels were again aground, and a second great wave was seen 
approaching, with more noise and impetuosity than the first ; 
but though this was more powerful, its effects were not so 
considerable — simply because there was less to destroy. Again 
the sea fell, dragging away quantities of woodwork and the 
lighter materials of houses, and leaving the shipping aground. 
After some minutes of awful suspense, a third enormous swell 
was seen between Quiriquina and the mainland, apparently 
larger than either of the two former. Roaring as it dashed 
against every obstacle with irresistible force, it rushed— destroy- 
ing and overwhelming — along the shore. Quickly retiring, as 
if spurned by the foot of the hills, the retreating wave dragged 
away such quantities of household effects, fences, furniture, and 
other moveables, that after the tumixltuous rush was over, the 
sea appeared to be covered with wreck. Earth and water 
trembled : and exhaustion appeared to follow these mighty 


Numbers of the inhabitants then hastened to the ruins, 

anxious to ascertain the extent of their losses, and to save some 
money, or a few valuable articles, which, having escaped the 
sweep of the sea, were exposed to depredators.* 

During the remainder of the day, and the following night, 
the earth was not quiet many minutes at a time. Frequent, 
almost incessant tremors, occasional shocks more or less 
severe, and distant subterranean noises, kept every one in anx- 
ious suspense. Some thought the crisis had not arrived, and 
would not descend from the hills into the ruined town. Those 
who were searching among the ruins, started at every shock, 
however slight, and almost doubted that the sea was not actu- 

* Thieves were numerous in Talcahuano. Directly after the ruin these 
scoundrels set to work — though crying ' Misericordia,' and with one 
hand beating their breast — with the other they stole most industriously. 


ally rushing in again to overwhelm them. Nearly all the inha- 
bitants, excepting a few who went on board vessels in the har- 
bour, passed the night upon the hills, without shelter: and next 
day they began to raise sheds and huts upon the high grounds, 
still dreading the sea. It was said, and generally considered 
certain, that every dog at Talcahuano had left the town before 
the shock, which ruined the buildings, was felt. 

Without explanation it appears astonishing how the ship- 
ping escaped destruction. There were three large whale-ships, 
a bark, two brigs, and a schooner, very near the town, in from 
four to seven fathoms water : they were lying at single anchor,* 
with a good scope of cable :•]- one only was well moored. 

With the southerly breeze, which was rather fresh at the 
time of the earthquake, these vessels lay to seaward | of their 
anchors, having their sterns towards the sea ; and were left 
aground in this position. The captain of the port, D. Pablo 
Delano, was on board one of the whale ships at the time, with 
the hatches battened down, and dead lights shipped. All 
hands took to the rigging for safety. The first great wave 
came in an unbroken swell to the stern of the vessel, broke 
over and lifted her along without doing any material harm, 
more than sweeping her decks : and the slack chain dragging 
over the mud checked her gradually, as the first impetus of the 
wave diminished. Whii-ling her round, the water rushed out 
to seaward again, leaving the vessel stranded nearly in her 
former position. From two fathoms, when aground, the depth 
alongside increased to ten, as the water rose highest during 
the last swell. The two latter waves approached, and affected 
the shipping similarly to the former : all withstood their force, 
though the light anchors were dragged. Some of the vessels 
were thrown violently against others ; and whii'led around as 
if they had been in the vortex of a whirlpool. Previous to the 
rush of waters, the Paulina and Orion, two merchantmen, were 

* Or steadied by a second anchor which was too light to withstand 
any great strain. 

t Chain. — The holding-ground is excellent, a soft, tenacious mud. 
J Nearly half a cable's length ; or from sixty to one hundred yards. 


lying a full cable's length apart ; and after it had passed they 
were side by side, with three round turns in their cables. 
Each vessel had therefore g-one round the other with each wave : 
the bow of one was stove in : to the other little damage was 
done. A small vessel* was on the stocks, almost ready for 
launching; she was carried by the sea two hundred yards 
in-shore, and left there unhurt. A little schooner, at anchor 
before the town, slipped her cable, and ran out in the offing as 
the water fell. She met the wave, unbroken, and rose over it 
as an ordinary swell. The Colocolo-f* was under sail near the 
eastern entrance of the bay — she likewise met the wave, as a 
large swell, without inconvenience. 

Many boats]: put off from the shore before the sea retired : 
some met the advancing waves before they broke, and rose 
safely over them ; others, half swamped, struggled through the 
breakers. The fate of one little boy was extraordinary. A 
servant woman had taken refuge with him in a boat ; the boat 
was dashed against an anchor, lying on the shore, and divided. 
The woman was drowned, but the half of the boat containing 
the child § was carried out into the bay. It floated, and the 
boy held firmly. He was picked up afterwards, sitting up- 
right, holding steadily with both hands, wet and cold, but 
unhurt. The boy's name is Hodges : his father is an English- 
man, well known at Talcahuano, and was an officer in the 
British navy. 

For several days the sea was strewed with wreck ; not 
only in the Bay of Concepcion, but outside, in the offing. The 
shores of Quiriquina Island were covered with broken furni- 
ture and wood work of all kinds ; so much so, that for weeks 
afterwards, parties were constantly at work collecting and 
bringing back property. During three days succeeding that 
of the ruin the sea ebbed and flowed irregularly, and very 
frequently : rising and falling for some hours after the shock 
two or three times in an hour. Eastward of the island of Qui- 
riquina the swell was neither so large nor so powerful as that 

» About thirty tons. t Chilian schooner of war. 

I Chiefly, if not all, whaleboats. § Only four years old. 


which swept over Talcahuano. Having more room to expend 
its strength in the wider and deeper part of the bay may per- 
liaps have been the reason why the sea swelled rapidly, with- 
out breaking, near Lirquen, in the south-east part of the bay ; 
and why it broke over Tome* with violence, though not so 
furiously as over Talcahuano. The great waves, coming 
from the sea, appear to have been divided, at the entrance of 
Concepcion Bay, by the island of Quiriquina, and turned 
aside both ways, one part taking its course along the Tumbes, 
or western shore, towards Talcahuano ; the other across the 
eastern opening, towards Tome. While the bay of Concep- 
cion was agitated by the great waves, it was noticed by Cap- 
tain Walford (from his house at Lirquen), that the Colocolo 
was swept to and fro remarkably. She was under sail near the 
eastern entrance of the bay. Two explosions, or eruptions, were 
witnessed while the waves were coming in. One in the offing, 
beyond the island of Quiriquina, was seen by Mr. Henry 
Burdon and his family, who were then embarked in a large 
boat, near Tome ; it appeared to be a dark column of smoke, 
in shape like a tower. Another rose in the middle of the bay 
of San Vicente, like the blowing of an immense imaginary 
whale : its disappearance was followed by a whirlpool which 
lasted some minutes : it was hollow, and tended to a point in 
the middle, as if the sea was pouring into a cavity of the earth. 
At the time of the ruin, and until after the great waves, the 
water in the bay appeared to be every where boihng ; bubbles 
of air, or gas, were rapidly escaping ; the water also became 
black, and exhaled a most disagreeable sulphureous smell. 
Dead fish were afterwards thi'own ashore in quantities ; they 
seemed to have been poisoned, or suffocated; and for days 
together the shores of the bay were covered with fine cor- 
vinos, and numerous small fish. Black stinking water burst 
up from the earth, in several places ; and in Mr. Evans's 
yard, at Talcahuano, the ground swelled like a large bubble, 

* Tome is near the eastern entrance of the bay, where the wave would 
meet with more interruption than near Lirquen, though considerably less 
than in the western passage. 


then bursting, poured forth black, fetid, sulphureous water. 
Near Concepcion similar outbursts of water were seen, and 
similarly described. 

By a marked part of the wall of Captain Delano's house, it 
was ascertained that the body of water reached twenty-five feet 
above the usual level of high water. It penetrated into the 
' altos,'* and left sea- weed hanging to the remains of roofs, or 
to the tops of broken walls. But this must not be taken as the 
o-eneral height of the wave. A body of water, rushing upon 
a sloping beach with such force, would naturally preserve its 
impetus for some time, and run up the incUned plane, to a great 
height. Those who watched the waves coming in, considered 
them, while beyond the shipping, about as high as the upper 
part of the hull of a frigate ; or from sixteen to twenty feet 
above the level of the rest of the water in the bay. Only those 
parts of the wave which encountered opposition broke, until 
within half a mile of the beach, when the roar became appall- 
ing. Persons who were standing on the heights, overlooking 
both bays, saw the sea come swelling into San Vicente at the 
same time that it advanced upon Talcahuano. The explosion 
in San Vicente, and the sea advancing from both sides, made 
them think that the peninsula of Tumbes was about to be 
separated from the main land, and many ran up the hills until 
they had reached the very highest point. 

Strange extremes of injury and harmlessness were among the 
effects of these overwhelming waves. Buildings were levelled, 
heavy twenty-four pound guns were moved some yards, and 
upset; yet a child was carried to sea uninjured; and window- 
frames, with the glass in them, were thrown ashore upon the 
island of Quiriquina without a pane being broken ! According 
to a register, kept by Captain Delano, it appears that his baro- 
meter fell foui- or five tenths of an inch between the seventeenth 
and eighteenth of February, and was still falhng on the morn- 
ing of the eighteenth, after which it rose again. So great f and 

* First floor rooms. 

t In Concepcion a fall of two or three tenths indicates bad weather; 
four or five tenths a gale of wind, with much rain. 


sudden a fall, not followed by bad Aveather, may have been 
connected with the cause of the earthquake ; but some doubt 
hangs over these observations. The barometers on board the 
Beagle, at that time in Valdivia, did not indicate any change. 
StiU, at so great a distance, it does not follow that the mercury 
should move similarly ; and (notwithstanding doubts excited 
by persons at Concepcion who had frequently looked at Cap- 
tain Delano''s barometer,) I am hardly inclined to disbelieve the 
extract from his register which he gave me. 

In a river near Lirquen, a woman was washing clothes at the 
time of the great shock. The water rose instantaneously, from 
her feet half wa}' up her legs ; and then subsided gradually to 
its usual level. It became very muddy at the same time. On 
the sea-beach the water swelled up to high-water mark, at the 
time of the shock, without having previously retired. It then 
began to retire, and contirmed falling about half an hour, before 
a great wave was seen approaching. 

For some days after the devastation the sea did not rise to 
its usual marks, by four or five feet vertically. Some thought 
the land had been elevated, but the common and prevailing 
idea was, that the sea had retired. This alteration gradually 
diminished, till, in the middle of April, there was a difference 
of only two feet between the existing, and former high-water 
marks. The proof that the land had been raised exists in the 
fact, that the island of Santa Maria was upheaved some feet 
more than other places. 

In going through the narrow passage which separates 
Quiriquina from Tumbes, the great waves had swept the steep 
shores to a height of thirty feet (vertically) above high-water 
mark ; but this elevation was attained, in all probability, only 
at the sides of the passage, where the water met with more 
obstruction, and therefore washed up higher. That passage 
is nearly one mile in width, and has ten fathoms water in the 
middle ; but the rocks on the western side diminish its navi- 
gable width to half a mile. 

Wherever the invading waves found low land, the destruction 
was great, from those lands being in general well cultivated, and 


the site of many houses. The low grounds lying at the bottom 
of Concepcion Bay, particularly those of the Isla de los 
Reyes, were overflowed, and injured irreparably : quantities 
of cattle, horses, and sheep were lost. Similar effects, in an 
equal or less degree, were felt on the coasts between the river 
Itata, and Cape Rumena. Large masses of earth and stone, 
many thousand tons in weight, were detached from the cliffs, 
and precipitous sides of the hills. It was dangerous to go near 
the edge of a cliff, for numerous chasms, and cracks in every 
direction, showed how doubtful was the support. When walk- 
ing on the shore, even at high-water, beds of dead muscles, 
numerous chitons and Hmpets, and withered sea-weed, still ad- 
hering, though lifeless, to the rocks on which they had lived, 
every where met the eye — proofs of the upheaval of the land. 

Besides suffering from the effects of the earthquake and 
three invading waves, which, coming from the west round both 
points of the island, united to overflow the low ground near 
the village, Santa Maria was upheaved nine feet. It appeared 
that the southern extreme of the island was raised eight feet, 
the middle nine, and the northern end upwards of ten feet. 
The Beagle visited this island twice — at the end of March and 
in the beginning of April : at her first visit it was concluded, 
from the visible evidence of dead shell-fish, water-marks, and 
soundings, and from the verbal testimony of the inhabitants, 
that the land had been raised about eight feet. However, on 
retui'ning to Concepcion, doubts were raised ; and to settle the 
matter beyond dispute, one of the owners of the island, Don 
S. Palma, accompanied us the second time. An intelligent 
Hanoverian, whose occupation upon this island was sealing, and 
who had lived two years there and knew its shores thoroughly, 
was also passenger in the Beagle. 

When we landed, the Hanoverian, whose name was Anthony 
Vogelborg, showed me a spot from which he used formerly to 
gather ' choros,'* by diving for them at low tide. At dead low 
water, standing upon the bed of ' choros,' and holding his hands 
up above his head, he could not reach the surface of the water: 
• A large kind of muscle. 


his height is six feet. On that spot, when I was there, tlie 
' chores' were barely covered at high spring-tide. 

Ridinff round the island afterwards, with Don Salvador 
and Vogelborg, I took many measures in places v/here no mis- 
take could be made. On large steep-sided rocks, where vertical 
measures could be correctly taken, beds of dead muscles were 
found ten feet above the recent high-water mark. A few 
inches only above what was then the spring-tide high-water 
mark, were putrid shell-fish and seaweed, which evidently had 
not been wetted since the upheaval of the land. One foot lower 
than the highest bed of muscles, a few limpets and chitons were 
adhering to the rock where they had grown. Two feet lower 
than the same muscles, chitons and limpets were abundant. 

An extensive rocky flat lies around the northern parts of 
Santa Maria. Before the earthquake this was covered by the 
sea, some projecting rocks only showing themselves : after it, 
the whole surface was exposed ; and square acres (or many 
quadras) of the rocky flat were covered with dead shell-fish, the 
stench arising from which was abominable. By this elevation 
of the land the southern port of Santa Maria was almost de- 
stroyed: there remained but little shelter, and very bad landing: 
the soundings having diminished a fathom and a half every 
where around the island. 

At Tubul, to the south-east of Santa Maria, the land was 
raised six feet. The waves did not enter that river's mouth 
untU about one o'clock ; and then in greater nvuuber, but with 
less force, six or seven having been counted. Might not this 
be owing to the meeting of the divisions of the great wave 
which passed around Santa Maria. 

At the island of Mocha the shock of the earthquake was so 
strong that people could not stand. The sea washed over the 
rocks at the end of the island, higher than it had ever reached 
in a heavy gale of wind. Anthony Vogelborg was on one of 
those rocks, or rather on an islet at the south end of Mocha, 
at the time, with a party who were sealing. Their boat was 
hauled up on the top of the rocky islet, and, expecting to be 
washed off, they held by it in readiness. The boat was lying 


nearly east and west. During the earthquake some water in her 
bottom ran as fast from one end of the boat to the other as if 
some one were quickly lifting one end off the ground and letting 
it down again. It did not wash from side to side at any time. 
Two forked sticks were stuck in the ground, about three yards 
apart ; another lay across them for hanging things to dry. 
These sticks also were nearly east and west of one another : 
and during the shock they waved to and fro till the forks 
touched, and the cross stick fell. Strong shocks were felt by 
vessels under sail near Mocha ; and between Mocha and Con- 
cepcion, the same was experienced by several vessels, not only 
on the 20th, but during following days. 

At anchor off Mocha on the 24th, a shock was felt by me, 
which resembled the sudden drasraing: of the anchor over rocks. 
Under way on the 2d of March, it was thought that a chain- 
cable was running out at the hawse. In one vessel they supposed 
she had run ashore: on board of another, that the ship had passed 
over a whale. Vogelborg thought that the land had been up- 
heaved about two feet ; and from his accuracy in other matters, 
I am inclined to trust to his opinion. 

At Valdivia the shock began gently, increased gradually 
during two minutes, was at its strongest about one minute, and 
then diminished. The motion was undulating and regular, like 
waves rolling from west to east, but strong ; and it lasted nearly 
ten minutes. There was no difficulty in standing or walking, 
but the houses waved and cracked. The stone church tottered, 
but was not injured ; its roof was very light. AH the dwelling- 
houses being strongly built of wood, withstood the shock. 
Most people thought the motion was from south-west to north- 
east, but Mr. Darwin and a person with him at the time, thought 
the reverse. 

The river increased, or rose, at the same time, and rapidly fell 
again to its former height. In the port the sea swelled suddenly 
upon the shore to high-water mark, though it was then nearly 
the time of low-water, and quickly fell again. Both sea and river 
rose and fell frequently during the remainder of the day. The 
river never fell below its usual height, neither did the sea retire 


beyond its proper place, at that time of tide ; but each swelled 
from time to time and again sunk down. This happened once 
or twice in an hour. After the great convulsion, other slighter 
shocks occurred at intervals of a few minutes during an hour. 
In the afternoon, at about five, a smart shock was felt, which 
made the people run out of their houses. * One man and one 
woman were drowned by the sudden rise of the sea near Niebla: 
it was supposed that they were upon the rocks gathering shell- 
fish. Excepting in this instance, no injury was done at Valdi- 
via. No noise preceded or accompanied any of the shocks, "f 

Tliis great earthquake extended to the island of Chiloe, 
and probably still farther to the southward. The shock was 
there slight, but lasted during six or eight minutes ; it was 
neither preceded nor followed by any subterranean noise. At 
about thirty-four minutes after eleven, J the beginning of the 
shock was felt. The motion was undulating and not strong. 
The swell of the sea was felt there, but I know not at what 
time. A man was going to leave the shore § in his boat; he 
went a short distance to fetch something, and returning found 
the boat aground and immoveable: puzzled and vexed he 
went away, but had not gone many yards before his son called 
to him that it was afloat. 

• Although built of wood. 

t (Valdivia has since been ruined). " Valdivia, Nov. 7, de 1837- 

"El gran terremoto que ha esperimentado este pueblo en la maiiana 
de este dia, sin tocar los limites de la exajeracion, se puede asegurar sea 
el mayor de los hasta aqui acontecidos. Di6 principio a las 8 y 5 minu- 
tes ; y termind a las 8 y quarto : advirtiendo que el movimiento de la tierra 
en este espacio detiempofue tan extraordinario que con difieultad podia 
un hombre sostenerse en pie. Continue en seguida hasta las 9 y media 
con interrupcion solo de momentos, y desde esa bora hasta las 12 y tres 
cuartos que son actualmente se esperimentan los mismos movimientos, 
aunque no con igual fuerza. Las dos unicas iglesias que habia en este 
pueblo, y todos los edificios fiscales, se ban arruinado completamente 
y si no les ha caido igual suerte a las demas casas de esta poblacion ha 
contribuido sin duda la circumstancia de ser ellas de niadera, aunque por 
lo general ban sufrido grande detrimento. " Isidro Veegara." 

" Al S'. Ynt®. de la prov. de Concepcion, Dn. Manuel Biilnes." — Ex- 
tracted from the ' Araucano' of Chile, Dec. 8, 1837. 

I Mean time (exact ?). § Point A rena— San Carlos. 


In the small port of Coliumo, close to the northward of 
Concepcion Bay, the waves rose about as high as at Tome, 
nearly fourteen feet before they reached the shore. The little 
viDage of Dichato shared the general calamity ; but, stu.,iding 
rather higher and more distant from the sea than Talcahuano, 
it escaped the ravages of that element. 

At the mouth of the Maule the force and height of the 
waves must have been considerably diminished ; for no particular 
effect was noticed at the time, nor were there any marks upon 
the shore by which the height of the wave could be afterwards 
ascertained. That the sea should not there have occupied 
attention is not surprising, when one considers the locality o. 
La Constitucion, as the port and town are called. On level 
low land, at the south side of the river, lies the town ; between 
which and the sea there is high land, and a distance of about a 
mile. The river winds round the northern promontory of the 
high land, and then fights its way to sea over a bar, 6n which 
there are always breakers. There are no houses on the sea- 
shore ; and, without going half a-mile up the hill, the sea 
cannot be seen; naturally then, for some" time after the town 
was ruined by the earthquake, the inhabitants would be en- 
gaged in saving and sheltering their property, rather than 
looking at the ocean. I could not ascertain whether the river 
had risen or not : and having previously heard that the waves 
were very powerful at the mouth of the Maule, I was a good 
deal surprised to find they had been almost unnoticed : but 
all attention seemed to have been engrossed with the earth- 

A vessel, lying close under the promontory mentioned above, 
was obliged to move as quickly as possible, when the shocks 
began, so serious was the shower of stones which rattled down 
the hill and fell about, and on board of her. I was assured 
by the governor, by the chief pilot, and by other residents, 
that instead of the land having been elevated at all, they 
considered that it had sunk about two feet. The pilot said 
he had found two feet more water on the bar, since the great 
shock, and that he was certain the banks of the ri\'er were 

VOL. n. 2 E 


lower, though he could not say exactly how much. A rush 
of water might have shifted the loose sands of the bar ; but 
whether the land had sunk seemed to me very doubtful. 
Certainly, however, it had not risen. 

The island of Juan Fernandes was very much affected. 
Near Bacalao Head an eruption burst through the sea, in a 
place about a mile from the land, where the depth is from fifty 
to eighty fathoms. Smoke and water were thrown up during 
the greater part of the day, and flames were visible at night.* 
Great waves swept the shores of the island, after the sea had 
retired so much that old anchors were seen at the bottom of 
the anchorage. 

This earthquake was felt at all places between Chiloe and 
Copiapo : between Juan Fernandes and Mendoza. On the 
sea-coast, within those limits, the retiring and swelling of the 
ocean was every where observed. At Mendoza the motion was 
evenly gentle. Copiapo, Huasco, and Coquimbo felt similar, 
although rather more forcible undulations. Towns, and houses 
which lay between the parallels of thirty-five and thirty-eight, 
suffered extremely ; nearly all were ruined ; but northward 
and southward of those latitudes, slight injury was done to any 
building. In the parallel of thirty-three and a-half, Juan Fer- 
nandes suffered, yet Valparaiso, opposite, escaped uninjured. 

As to the state of neighbouring volcanoes, so various wei-e 
the accounts of their action, both after and before the earth- 
quake, that I had no means of ascertaining the full truth ; 
but I heard from Valdivia that directly after the earthquake 
all the volcanoes from Antuco to Osorno, inclusive, were in full 

* The highest summit of Juan Fernandes was " found to be burned, 
full of fissures and hot," in 1743. Ulloa saw a small flame there. — 
Voyage of Juan and Ulloa ; translated by Adams. 

t Of another earthquake the " Araucano," of Dec. 8, 1837, states as 
follows : 

" Talcahuano, Nov. 7, 1837. 

" Fue bastante recio y duro como cuatro o cinco minutos, con la par- 
ticularidad notable de haberse advertido un pequeno retroceso de la mar 
a cia su centre en Talcahuano, y haber quedado interrumpido por algunos 
dias el flujo y reflujo de sus aguas." 


Mocha — Movement of Land — Penco — Ulloa — Shells — Coal — Maule — 
Topocalma — Aconcagua — Valparaiso — Horcon — Papudo — Pichi- 
danque — Conchali — Herradura — Coquimbo — Wreck — Challenger — 
Blonde — Ride — Estate — Colcura — Villagran — Arauco — Former 
caciques — Colocolo — Caupolican — Scenery — Quiapo — Night travel- 
ling— Leiibu — Tucapel — Valdivia — Lautaro — Challenger; 

When the Beagle entered Concepcion Bay, she had only 
one heavy anchor left, having broken or lost the others ; and 
as there were none fit for her at Talcahuano, it became abso- 
lutely necessary to go to Valparaiso : accordingly, on the 7th 
of March we left the melancholy ruins and their disconsolate 
tenants, and on the 11th dropped our only anchor at Valpa- 
raiso. There our wants were soon supplied, and we sailed on 
the ITth to revisit Concepcion. 

From the 27th the time was occupied in surveying the neigh- 
bourhood of Concepcion, Arauco Bay, the island of Santa 
Maria, and Mocha, until the 17th of April. 

Mocha is a prominent land-mark for navigators, but dan- 
gerous rocks lie about its south-west quarter, and as the cur- 
rent usually sets northward, a ship ought to beware of them. 
Previous to the eighteenth century it was inhabited by Arau- 
canian Indians, but they were driven away by the Spaniards ; 
and since that time a few stray animals have been the only 
permanent tenants. Most of the early voyagers speak of it. 
We found the anchorage indifferent, the landing bad, and no 
supplies to be obtained except wood, and, with much difficulty, 

Our duties were greatly forwarded while about Concepcion, 
by the earnest and very kind assistance of the yntendente, Don 
Jose Alemparte ; and the active friendliness of Mr. Rouse, the 
British consul. Though their houses were levelled, and they 
themselves without any of what most Englishmen would call 
comfort, we were received and attended to by them and the 

2e 2 


' Penquistos,'''^ as cordially as if their nerves and minds had 
endured no strain. 

Although it was indisputably proved to the satisfaction of 
every person in the neighbourhood, that elevations of land had 
occurred to the extent mentioned in the previous chapter, I 
strongly suspect that a sinking down has taken place since 
that period, to a very considerable amount, if not quite enough 
to counterbalance former elevation. This idea is suggested 
by the fact that when I was last at Talcahuano, in July 1835, 
only four months after the great convulsion, the shores of 
Concepcion Bay had regained their former position with 
respect to the level of the sea :-|- — by what the people of Tubul 
told me, when I rode by, of the sea having returned to its 
centre,| (meaning that it had regained its usual height), — 
and by what the inhabitants of Santa Maria said, when they 
told me that for three or four weeks immediately following 
the earthquake, their little port was much shallower than it 
was when I went there seven weeks afterwards. 

Wliether this conjecture be well founded a short time may 
show : if it should be, an explanation might thus arise of the 
differences of opinion respecting the permanent elevation of 
land near Valparaiso, where some say it has been raised seve- 
ral feet during the last twenty years, while others deny 
that it has been raised at all. It may have been elevated, or 
upheaved as geologists say, for a time, but since then it may 
have settled or sunk down again gradually to its old position. 
In a place like Valparaiso Bay, where dust is so much blown 
from the land to the water''s edge, and even out to sea ; and 
where many streams bring detritus from ravines, no decisive 
judgment can be formed as to the rise of land, because of the 
beach increasing gradually, and the water diminishing in depth. 

* Natives of Concepcion: so called because they formerly lived at 
Pence : before that city was overwhelmed in 1730. 

t Close to the landing place at Concepcion is a rock that was usually 
covered at high-water, previous to the earthquake (of 1835), but which 
was two feet above the highest tides of the next few weeks. In July, 
1835, that rock was covered at ordinary high-water, as in 1834. 

X ' Esta ahora el mar a su centre' 

1835. PENCO CASTLK ' ULLOA.' 421 

In a ride along the beach of Concepcion Bay, with Mr. 
Rouse, we examined the solid wall of old Penco Castle, and 
found on one side the date 1686 and on another 1687. 

This castle and the adjoining foundations of houses, are so 
near the level of the sea, that I am surprised the inhabitants 
should not have feared being frequently inundated, even by 
tides oiJy a few feet higher than usual. 

If all this coast has been more or less upheaved during 
compai-atively modern times, how is it that the foundations of 
Penco still stand at the water's edge, very little above the 
level of a high spring tide .? Ulloa remarks, that " the 
country round the bay, particularly tliat between Talca- 
huano and Concepcion, within four or five leagues from the 
shore, is noted for a very singular curiosity, namely, that 
at the depth of one-half or three-quarters of a yard beneath 
the surface of the ground, is a stratum of shells of different 
kinds, two or three toises in thickness, and in some places even 
more, without any intermixture of earth, one large shell being 
joined together by smaller, and which also fill the cavities of 
the larger. From these shells all the lime used in building is 
made, and large pits are dug in the earth for taking out those 
shells, and calcining them. Were these strata of shells found 
only in low and level places, the phenomenon would be more 
easily accounted for by a supposition no ways improbable, 
namely, that these parts were formerly covered by the sea, 
agreeable to an observation we made in our description of 
Lima. But what renders it surprising is, that the like quar- 
ries of the same^kind of shells are found on the tops of moun- 
tains in this country, fifty toises above the level of the sea. I 
did not indeed personally examine the quarries on the highest 
of those mountains, but was assured of their existence by 
persons who had lime-kilns there ; but I saw them myself on 
the summits of others, at the height of twenty toises above 
the surface of the sea, and was the more pleased with the sight, 
as it appeared to me a convincing proof of the universality of 
the deluge. I am not ignorant that some have attributed tl)is 
to other causes; but an unanswerable confutation of their 


subterfuge is, that the various sorts of shells which compose 
these strata both in the plains and mountains, are the very 
same with those found in the bay and neighbouring places. 
Among these shells are three species very remarkable : the 
first is called ' choros,' already mentioned in our description of 
Lima ; the second is called ' pies de burros," asses' feet ; and 
the third ' bulgados,' and these to me seem to preclude all man- 
ner of doubt that they were originally produced in that sea, 
from whence they were carried by the waters, and deposited in 
the places where they are now found. 

" I have examined these parts with the closest attention, and 
found no manner of vestige of subterraneous fires. No cal- 
cinations are to be met with on the surface of the earth, nor 
among the shells ; which, as I have already observed, are not 
intermixed with earth ; nor are there stones, or any other hete- 
rogeneous substances found among them. Some of these shells 
are entire, others broken, as must naturally happen in such a 
close compression of them, during so long an interval of time. 
" The pie de burro has its name from the fish enclosed in it, 
resembling, when taken out, the foot of an ass. This fish is of 
a dark brown colour, firm and filaceous ; it is an vmivalve, its 
mouth almost circular, and its diameter about three inches. 
The bottom of the shell is concave within, and convex with- 
out. The colour within is perfectly white, the surface very 
smooth ; the outside scabrous and full of tubercles. Its thick- 
ness in every part is about four or five lines; and being large, 
compact and heavy, it is preferred to all others for making lime. 
" The bulgados, in the Canaries called bulgaos, are snails, 
not at all differing in their form from the common, but larger 
than those of the same name found in gardens, being from two 
inches to two inches and a-half in diameter. The shell is also 
very thick, rough on the outside, and of a dark brown colour ; 
and, next to the preceding, makes the best lime. 

" All these species of shell fish are found at the bottom of the 
sea in four, six, ten, and twelve fathom water. They are caught 
by drags ; and what is very remarkable is, that no shells, either 
the same, or that have any resemblance to them, are seen either 

1835. COCHAYUYO— COAL. 423 

on the shores continually washed by the sea, or on those tracks 
which have been overflowed by an extraordinary tide. They 
adhere to a sea-plant called cochayuyo (a). 

" This plant divides itself into several branches, equal in 
dimensions to the main stem. These branches successively pro- 
duce others of the same proportion, so that the produce of one 
single root covers a prodigious space. At the joints, where the 
branches spring, is found this kind of shell-fish, where they 
both receive their nourishment, and propagate their species." — 
Ulloa's Voyage, translated by Adams, vol. ii. pp. 252-254. 

Not far from Old Penco is the stratum of coal about which 
there has lately been much discussion. 

Herrera says, " There is coal upon the beach, near the city 
of Concepcion : it burns like charcoal."* Frezier bears witness 
that near Talcahuano there is good coal, which can be obtained 
without digging deeper than two feet ; and he declares that the 
natives were astonished at his companions taking a substance 
out of the earth to burn as fuel in their forge.-f- Captain Basil 
Hall saw the place whence coal had been " worked without any 
trouble. The seam is thick, and apparently extensive, and 
might probably, with due care and skill, be wrought to any 
extent."! Captain Hall " laid in a supply of coals at this 
place. The coals, which were brought for us to the beach, 
cost twelve shiUings per ton, every thing included.""^ Steven- 
son says, " To what extent the coal reaches, has never yet been 
ascertained ; all that has been used has been obtained by throw- 
ing aside the mould which covers the surface. This "coal is 
similar in appearance to the English cannel ; but it is reason- 
able to suppose that if the mine were dug to any considerable 
depth, the quality would be found to improve."|| 

Many other authorities^! might be cited to prove that coal 
exists abundantly near Concepcion, and that it has often been 

(a) See note at end of chapter. 

* Dee. 8, 1, 6, c, 11. t Frezier's Voyage, p. 146. 

X Hall's Journal, vol. i. p. 303. § Idem, p. 307. 

II Stevenson's South America, vol. i. p. 121. 

If The Earl of Dundonald for instance. 


used. There are objections to it, by no means insuperable, 
which have alarmed people, and checked the working of those 
mines. It is said to be very bituminous — that it burns too 
quickly to ashes to answer well for smith's work, because it 
does not give heat enough — and that it is liable to spontaneous 
combustion. The last objection might be removed by keeping 
the coal under water,* and coking-f- would render it available 
for the forge. Some geologists say that it is ' mere lignite,' 
and think very lightly of its quantity or value ; but practical 
men will doubtless attach some value to what has been proved 
by experience. 

On the 17th of April, the Beagle sailed from Concepcion 
Bay, examined Coliumo, and, coasting along, anchored off 
the Maule River on the SOth. In a very thick fog, during 
the night of the 19th, while carrying sail to get an offing, we 
were within a fathom of being run down by a vessel crossing 
us on the opposite tack. As both ships were under all sail, 
and it was dark, our momentary sensations were far from 

To land here was perplexing enough, for a heavy surf broke 
on the bar of the river, and nearly as much along the shore ; 
but with some risk and difficulty we effected our purpose in 
two light whale-boats, which could be hauled up directly they 
touched the beach. Nearly all the population of a thriving 
village, called Constitucion, came down to meet us (on the 
21st), and assist in hauling our boats up the steep though 
yielding sand, where, for our comfort, they told us a whole 
boat's crew had been drowned, not long previously, in attempt- 
ing to land. From a height overlooking the river, village, and 
neighbourhood, we enjoyed a veiy pleasing view, so long as 
we turned away from the bar of the river, and the surf. A 
rich country and a fine river are pleasing things at all times, 
but the difficult approach to Constitucion mars half its beauty. 
Only the smallest craft can cross the bar ; it is dangerous 

* I do not mean merely wet, but well saturated and covered with water 
till required for use. 

t It has been coked, and found to answer well. 


for boats to land on the outer beach : and difficult for them to 
profit by the few opportunities which occur of passing the bar 
without risk. 

Notwithstanding these local disadvantages, Constitucion may 
thrive wonderfully hereafter, by the help of small steamers, 
for she has a most productive country around her, abounding 
in internal as well as external wealth, and a navigable river at 
command. Besides this, in 1805, a very practicable passage 
was discovered through the Andes, about seventy leagues south 
of Mendoza, not far from the latitude of the River Maule, 
almost entirely level, and fit for waggons — the only pass of 
such a description between the isthmus of Darien and Pata- 

From the Maule we sailed along the coast northward ; limited 
time, and work in prospect urging us to hasten more than could 
have been wished. The shoal, or rather rocks of Topocalma, 
or Rapel, were examined ; some coves looked at, fit only for 
coasting launches, and the line of this bold, but uninteresting 
coast tolerably well determined. Before sunrise, on the 22d, 
we had a splendid view of the Andes — their range or Cordil- 
lera being unclouded, and distinctly visible from south-east 
almost to north. The sharp summit of Aconcagua, 23,000 feet 
above the sea level, towered high over any other. 

At noon, on the 23d, we hove-to off Valparaiso, and sent 
boats ashore. Mr. Darwin came on board, and among other 
pieces of good news, told me of my promotion, I asked about 
Mr. Stokes and Lieut. Wickham, especially the former ; but 
nothing had been heard of their exertions having obtained any 
satisfactory notice at head-quarters, which much diminished the 
gratification I might otherwise have felt on my own account. 
Mr. Darwin returned to the shore, intending to travel over- 
land, to meet us at Coquimbo, his very successful excursion 
across the Andes having encouraged him to make another long 
journey northward. 

On the 25th, we anchored in Horcon Bay, a place (by some 
curious accident) entirely left out of all former charts, 
although there is good anchorage, and a fishing village not far 


from a populous small place called Puchancavi. From this 
station we sailed to Papudo, a small port rising into repute, 
on account of copper-mines in its neighbourhood. It is well 
marked by a high-peaked hill, called Gobernador. Next to 
Papudo lies Ligua, a place where boats only can go ; farther 
north, or ' down the coast"' (as they say in Chile and Peru), 
is Pichidanque, an excellent cove, rather than port, now much 
used for shipping copper, and formerly a smuggling place ; 
rendered more notorious by the murder of Burcher, the master 
of an English smuggling vessel called the Scorpion, who was 
enticed ashore and assassinated, after which his ship was seized 
and plundered. This took place in the present century; and 
an individual, who was said to have taken an active part in 
the tragedy, was living at Quillota, in 1885. 

Close to Pichidanque is a high pointed hill, called ' Silla"* 
(from its saddle shape), seeing which distinctly from Valpa- 
raiso, is said to be a sign of an approaching northerly wind. 

I landed at Conchali after dark on the 30th, leaving the 
Beagle under sail in the offing. My reception was very hos- 
pitable ; but the people made sure I was a smuggler ; and 
some of the principal inhabitants rode with me several miles 
next morning to the place where my boat was hauled ashore, 
thinking all the time that I was only waiting for a favourable 
opportunity to tell them my secret, and make advantageous 
terms. All this coast, except a few corners, is bold and high, 
barren and uninteresting ; though picturesque in outline. 

May 2d. Another smuggHng cove, called Quilimari, was 
examined by me. There is but doubtful landing, and no shel- 
ter for a vessel ; balsas, however, might do a good deal of work 
for such a character as I was taken for at Conchali. 

On the 4th, having hastily reconnoitred the coast nearly as 
far as Coquimbo, we ran into Herradura Cove, and moored 
ship securely. It was my intention to refit there thoroughly, 
and prepare the Beagle for receiving a large supply of stores 
and provisions at Valparaiso, which would enable her to run 
down the coast to the Galapagos, and thence cross the Pacific 
to Sydney in Australia. In Herradura she lay quietly close 

1835. HEllEADUHA— COaUIMBO. 427 

to the land until the 6th of June: and all her crew were 
encamped on shore near the ship, while she was thoroughly 
cleared out, re-stowed, and painted. At Coquimbo (or Serena) 
we always met with a hearty welcome whenever duty required 
that we should go there, or when we went for our own amuse- 
ment. The Yntendente, Yrrisarte, the kind-hearted Mr. Ed- 
wards and his family, and others, will not easily be forgotten 
by the Beagle''s officers. 

As another real benefactor to the public service, I may be 
allowed to mention Don Francisco Vascuiian, who lent me a 
vessel of thirty-five tons, called the Constitucion, to be em- 
ployed in forwarding the survey. This craft was built in the 
River Maule, and bore a very high character as a sea boat. 
Lieutenant Sulivan, Mr. King, Mr. Stewart, and Mr. Forsyth 
volunteered to go in her ; so giving them a boat's crew, a small 
boat, a native pilot with his balsa, and as good an outfit as my 
means would allow, I despatched this new tender to examine 
a portion of coast near Coquimbo, which the Beagle had not 
seen sufficiently, and directed Lieut. Sulivan, if he found the 
vessel efficient, to continue afterwards surveying along the coast 
of Chile, as far as Paposo, whence he was to repair to Callao.* 

On the 6th of June, the Beagle left Herradura, and sailed 
towards Valparaiso. Anxious, however, to communicate with 
Don Diego Portales,*}- who was staying at his country-house, 
near Papudo, I touched there in my way ; arrived at Valparaiso 
on the 14th of June, and immediately began the arrangements 
necessary for our preparations to quit Chile. The liberal assis- 
tance rendered by Don Francisco Vascuiian, in lending me his 
own vessel, without any kind of agreement or remuneration 
whatever, had enabled me to look forward to adding much of 
the coast of Chile to our gleanings in hydrography ; for I well 
knew that Lieutenant Sulivan would not only make despatch, 
but extremely correct work. 

Here I may remark, that if little is said henceforth about 

• Orders in Appendix. 

t Don Diego Portales, one of the ablest men in South America, was 
murdered, in 1837, by some of his ungrateful countrymen. 


places so well known as the coasts of Chile, Peru, and other 
countries often described, it is because I feel bound to avoid 
mere repetition as far as possible, and because the limits of ray 
narrative are fixed. For the present, leaving the Beagle to get 
her stores and provisions on board, I must turn to another scene. 
16th June. By the post which arrived from Santiago this 
morning, an English merchant received a laconic account of 
the total loss of his Majesty's ship Challenger. This report 
spread as quickly as bad tidings are wont to do : but no official 
information arrived during that day, or the ensuing night. 
Recollecting that a Swedish ship had come lately into Val- 
paraiso, whose officers had seen what they described as " an 
American brig " cast away near Mocha ; I found out the ship 
and questioned the master and mates. T'hey had arrived at 
Valparaiso on the 25th of May, and all agreed in stating that 
on the 20th of that month, they saw a large vessel ashore on 
the coast of the mainland, to the northward and eastward of 
Mocha. They saw her at daylight, but as they had light airs 
of wind and a very heavy swell until three in the afternoon, 
to save themselves from danger they were obliged to make 
all sail away from the land, and lost sight of the wreck. 

The vessel looked large, with fore and main masts standing, 
and top-gallant masts an end until eight o'clock, when the fore- 
topmast went over the side, or was struck : her fore-topsail 
yard remained across ; no main-top-gallant yard was seen ; 
the raain-top-gallant mast was standing all day, and there was 
a large ensign at the mast-head : white and red were seen, 
therefore it was thought to be American. Her bow was to 
seaward, as if she had anchored ; her sails were loose all day ; 
people were seen on the after part of what appeared to be a 
roundhouse painted green. Bulwarks very high — ports very 
large — no boats on deck or at the quarters — no guns on upper 
deck. Looking at her end on, Avith the masts nearly in a line 
— all her upper deck could be seen, though very indistinctly, 
owing to hazy weather, the additional haze caused by spray 
thrown up from a furious surf, and their own distance from 
the wreck : which was never less than four miles. 


The log of the Swedish ship was produced, which exactly 
corroborated their statement. The master said he could not 
lower a boat, so great was the swell ; and during five hours of 
almost calm, he was drifting helplessly towards the wreck, and 
expecting to share her fate. The two masts and red and white 
ensign, caused them to consider her an American brig, and 
as such she was reported to the consul for the United States. 

A few of the preceding data convinced me they had seen the 
poor Challenger, but I was more strongly assured of the fact 
by pointing to the Conway, then at anchor near us, and asking 
whether she was like that ship — and near her size ? Yes, sir, 
they replied. The green roundhouse abaft, seemed to have 
been a deception caused by looking at the curved green tafFrail 
of the Challenger. I concluded that the mizen-mast had been 
cut or carried away ; perhaps used as a raft : that the boats 
had been lowered, and that the ensign was St. George's, (Sir 
G. E. Hamond's flag being white at the mizen) but did not 
fly out, as there was no wind. The quarter-deck guns were 
close to the side, or perhaps below. Such were my thoughts, 
but other persons were of a totally different opinion. I was 
astonished that the Commodore did not hear officially from 
Santiago — particularly as the merchant's private notice was 
received through our Consul-general. 

17th. At the Post-office I obtained a large packet, directed 
to our vice-consul, the moment the post-master opened the mail 
bag ; and hastening to the consul's office, I was surprised to 
find it shut, and to hear that no one would be there for an 
hour or two. Such apathy — upon such an occasion ! Not 
choosing to break the seals, though I saw by the direction what 
were the contents (Despatches by Challenger), I went in search 
of the proper person to open the packet : took the Commo- 
dore's letters, and hastened with them to the Blonde. Every 
doubt was then ended. The Challenger was lost on the night 
of the 19th of May, at the spot described by the Swede : but 
all her crew were saved except two ; and on the 26th of that 
month, Captain Seymour, the officers and men were encamped 
near the wreck, at a place called Molguilla. The Blonde pre- 


pared for sea : an offer of such assistance as I could render was 
accepted by the commodore ; and, having arranged the B?a- 
gle's affairs, as far as then necessary, I went on board the 
Blonde, taking with me Mr. Usborne, J. Bennett, and a whale- 
boat. Lieut. Wickham was to forward the Beagle's duty 
during my absence, and take her to Copiapo, Iquique, and 
Callao, before I should rejoin her. 

18th. Weighed at three in the morning and cleared the 
port before daybreak. A northerly, freshening wind favoured 
us much when in the offing. 

21st. Anchored in the bay of Concepcion, off Talcahuano, 
at noon. As soon as I could get a boat I landed, and hastened 
to obtain information, horses, and a guide, as the commodore 
wished me to go to Captain Seymour, and concert measures 
for removing the crew and the remaining stores. 

The captain of the port told Commodore Mason that the 
part of the coast on which the Challenger went shore, is quite 
inaccessible in any weather, but that boats had entered the 
mouth of the river Lelibu^ near Molguilla. 

Lieutenant Collins (of the Challenger) had been at Tal- 
cahuano, trying to procure a vessel, in which the shipwrecked 
crew might embark by means of boats, at the Leiibu, but not 
succeeding he had returned to his shipmates ; whom he ex- 
pected to find at the mouth of the river. It was said that a large 
body of Indians was in motion towards them, that the crew 
were short of provisions, and that they were becoming sickly. 
Assisted by the governor of Talcahuano, horses and a native 
guide were soon obtained ; but I wanted a more energetic 
assistant, and engaged a Hanoverian who was used to the half 
Indian natives of the frontier, and well known among them. 
This man was Vogelberg, or Vergara, already mentioned. 
With orders and letters from Commodore Mason, accompanied 
by Vogelberg and H. Fuller, and provided with five horses, I 
left Talcahuano the same evening. 

Being personally acquainted with the Yntendente, and his 
second in command, I hastened immediately to their houses at 
Concepcion, wishing to get an order to pass the Bio Bio River 


that night, and to procure a circular letter to the local au- 
thorities. Not a minute was lost by either of those zealous 
officers in attending to and complying with my requests. 
Alemparte left his dinner to write a circular letter, in his own 
hand ; and neither he nor Colonel Boza would return to their 
respective parties, until they had ascertained that I was pro- 
perly provided with horses and a guide, and that I required no 
further assistance. 

Although orders were issued and the ferry-boat at her 
station, no crew were to be found, and only those men who 
belonged to the boat knew how to cross over safely. Vexa- 
tious as the delay seemed, I was afterwards glad of it ; for 
judging by the work in day-light, I doubt our having ever 
reached the opposite bank with our horses, in a dark night. 

While talking to Colonel Boza I remarked a watchful, wild- 
looking, young Indian, in a Chilian half-uniform, standing in 
the house. Something unusual in his manner attracted my notice 
though hurried, and I have since regretted losing that oppor- 
tunity of acquainting myself with the son of Colipi, a famous 
cacique, who is the principal, and a very powerful leader of 
the northern Araucanians, though at present a friend to the 
Chilians. Colipi is a very tall and unusually strong man ; his 
onset and his yell are talked of with a shudder, by those who 
have suffered from Indian hostility. Educating his son at 
Concepcion is one of the methods used to conciliate the ' Bar- 

22d. Before the dawn of day we were looking for the water- 
men ; and, as the sun rose, succeeded in getting their boat, or 
rather flat-bottomed barge, into motion. We rode into the river, 
about two hundred yards, until we reached the barge, then 
lying close to an overflowed bank. By some persuasion of voice, 
whip, and spur, the horses were made to leap out of the water, 
over the gunwale and into the boat. They certainly showed 
more sense than horses usually have, in understanding so 
readily how to behave ; but whether their owners showed 
more than asses, in having so clumsy a ferry-boat, may be 


doubted. In leaping in the horses nearly knocked down, or 
trod upon, those who were dismounted ; and when leaping out 
again, they made such a splashing of the water in the leaky 
ferry-barge as effectually washed our faces. The river is wide, 
deep, and rapid ; and there are many sand-banks. The boat- 
men use oars as well as long poles ; but are slow and awkward 
to a degree I could scarcely have believed, had I not witnessed 
their progress. The breadth at the ferry is about a quarter of 
a mile, when the river is low, but upwards of half a mile when 
flooded, as at this time. The south bank is steep ; and from 
San Pedro, a little village at the ferry, the land rises in a south- 
east direction, towards a lofty range of hills ; but towards the 
south-west, it is low, level, and firm. Across this excellent 
galloping ground we tried our horses, and made the miles seem 
short, till we reached a low range of hills over Point Coronel. 
There, dismounting, we used our own legs until the hills were 
passed, and before us lay two long sandy beaches, called 
' Playa Negra,' and ' Playa Blanca.' 

In our gallop we passed the house of Don Juan de Dios 
Rivera,* whose estate on the south side of the Bio Bio is men- 
tioned by Captain Hall as an instance of the progressive tran- 
quillization of the Indians. Several lai'ge barn-like buildings 
spread over about two acres of ground, enclosed by a high 
fence of rough posts and rails, showed an eye accustomed to 
the country, that the proprietor held in his own hands a large 
estate : but that collection of thatched irregular roofs, and 
the utter absence of any thing like outward neatness or regu- 
larity, brought to my mind a very neglected rick-yard, near 
which not even a cottage appears. 

Yet this was the house of a man of large property ; and not 
by any means a bad one, compared with others in that country. 
Many reasons might be adduced to explain why Chilian gen- 
tlemen are reluctant to expend either time, trouble, or money 
in building good houses. Earthquakes are very frequent ; pro- 
perty is yet insecure; and the country has been occupied, 

* Yntendente of Concepcionin 1821. 

1835. ' haciknda' — river a — a. 4B8 

but so lately that there has not been any leisure time in which 
to think of more than the first necessaries of life. Noble trees 
surround this 'casa de hacienda.''* No underwood impedes 
your riding at a rapid pace in any direction : and beyond the 
woody spaces, extensive plains stretch towards the sea and to 
the bank of the river. These plains are intersected by nume- 
rous streams, and adorned with irregular clumps or thickets of 
trees : smaller indeed than those which shade the ' casa de 
hacienda,' but of a size sufficient to shelter cattle. 

This estate, which is not considered a large one in that coun- 
try, comprises, besides many square leagues of wild hilly coun- 
try, more than one hundred square miles of excellent land, well 
watered, abundantly wooded, and most pleasantly as well as 
conveniently situated. The owner is said to be a most worthy 
man, and numerous instances of his active goodness as well as 
excellent disposition, have been related to me at different 
times ; one of which I must stop to relate. 

My attendant, Vogelborg, passed near the door of Don 
Juan de Dios Rivera, while executing a commission entrusted 
to his most speedy despatch. Stopping a moment to ask the 
way, Don Juan remarked that he looked ill, and had better 
rest. Vogelborg thanked him, but explained the necessity of 
hastening onwards : in truth he was ill and very tired, though 
anxious to proceed. Don Juan then suggested the quicker 
method of forwarding the letters, entrusted to Vogelborg, by 
his own confidential servant, and forthwith despatched him 
upon one of his own horses, desiring Vogelborg to take jiosses- 
tion of an excellent bed ; where he remained two days under 
the kind care of Don Juan de Dios and his wife, who till that 
time, had never seen him. 

Abreast of Negra Beach is an anchorage, sheltered from the 
north and north-west winds by Point Coronel, but exposed to 
the southerly and west winds. Here, as well as in coves further 
south, much smuggling was carried on in the time of the 

Leaving the sea-shore, and some slippery rocky places over 

* Country-house upon the owner's estate. 
VOL. II. 2 F 


which we were obliged to lead our horses, we ascended the 
heights of Colcura. For our reward, after a muddy scramble 
up to the top of a steep hill, we looked down upon a fine though 
but partially wooded country, forming an agreeable succession 
of valleys and high grounds ; while to seaward there was an 
extensive view of the coast, with the island of Santa Maria in 
the distance. 

Perched on a height overlooking the sea, and directly above 
a very snug little anchorage, is the hamlet called Colcura ; and 
thither we hastened, inattentive to the complaints of our guide 
(who was likewise guardian of the horses), and trusting to 
Vogelborg's recollection of the road. Riding into a sort of field 
entrenchment at the top of Colcura hill, we were accosted by 
a sly-looking, sharp-visaged character, whose party-coloured 
iacket appeared to show that its owner held some office of a 
military nature, but whether that of ' cabo,"** or a higher, I 
could not determine vmtil I heard him say he could give 
us a good meal, and that he had three fine horses near the 
house ; when at once styling him ' gobernador' I rebuked my- 
self for liaving thought ill of his physiognomy, and proceeded 
to unsaddle. Disappointed, however, by a scanty bad meal, we 
thought to regain our tempers upon the backs of our host's 
horses ; but not an animal had he sent for ; nor, to our further 
vexation, could any inducement tempt him to lend one of 
those fine horses, wliich, he still said, were close by. The In- 
dians, he declared, were expected daily ; he knew not the 
moment he might have to fly for his life; on no condition 
wovild he lend a horse : no, not if a fleet of ships were wrecked, 
and I were to offer him an ounce of gold for each mile that his 
horse should carry me. 

Every Chilian residing on the frontier endeavours to keep 
by him a good horse, on which to escape, in case of a sudden 
attack of the Indians; for, as they never give quarter, and 
approach at a gallop, it is highly necessary to be always pre- 
pared. Those who can afford to do so, keep horses solely for 
the purpose of escape, which are the finest and the swiftest 
they can procure. I remember hearing, that when General 

* Corporal. 


Rosas was carrying on a war of extermination against the 
Pampa and Patagonian Indians, on the banks of the rivers 
Colorado and Negro, he had with him horses so superior, that 
it was said he could always ensure escape, if by chance he 
should be pursued : and one of them was invariably led about, 
saddled and bridled, near his tent. 

Saddling our own steeds, and quitting the thin-faced dis- 
penser of tough hens and sour apples, we set off at a gallop, 
leaving the lazy guide whom we brought from Talcahuano, to 
return there with the two worst animals (it was fortunate indeed 
we had bi'ought with us a spare one), and in two hours vye 
reached the foot of Villagran ; that hill so famed in Araucanian 

Being a natural barrier, it was a spot often chosen by the 
Araucanians, at which either to lie in ambush for the Spa- 
niards, or openly oppose them. In one battle, the brave Villa- 
gran, after whom this ridge of hills is named, and a small 
Spanish force, opposed a multitude of Indians who had hem- 
med them in on every side. The only opening by which Villa- 
gran could escape, was stopped up with a barrier of branches 
and fallen trees, behind which the Indians stood discharging 
arrows and slinging stones. Ercilla gives an animated descrip- 
tion of this scene ; but as his book is scarce, I will attempt a 
free translation of that passage, lame as it must necessarily be. 

the veteran Villagran, 

Heedless of any kind of death, 

Hazarded all upon a cast. 

He rode a stately powerful horse, 

Purest of Spanish blood — 

Strength and activity were well combined 

In that courageous steed — 

Swift and high-spirited, he yet obeyed 

The slightest touch of finger on the rein. 

The danger reached — instant as thought — 
The warrior's spurs excite the noble brute — 
He dashes on — and down the barrier goes. 
A deafening crash and dire dismay 
Followed, as onward tore their way 
Those few determined men. 
2 F 2 


The gallant steed unhurt appeared, 
Strove foremost in the fight, and feared 
Only to be the last! 

Ekcilla. Canto VI. 

We ascended the heights by winding narrow paths, up which 
our horses were led, in order to spare them as much as possible, 
and met a small party of Chilians, on their way from the wreck 
of the Challenger towards Concepcion, from whom we heard 
that the wreck had been abandoned, and that the officers and 
crew were entrenched in a secure position, on the height of 
' Tucapel Viejo,' close to tlie mouth of the river Lelibu. We 
were also told that the Indians increased in number daily, and 
that Great fears of their hostility were entertained. 

From the summit of Villagran we had an extensive view, 
reaching from Tumbes Heights, at the west side of the Bay of 
Concepcion, to Cape Rumena. The low island of Santa Maria, 
with its sandy spit, shaped like an arm, seemed to be within a 
few miles of us, though distant several leagues. I could trace 
the long, low, and almost straight beach of Laraquete till ended 
by the white cliffs of Tubul : I could distinguish the height 
immortalized by Colocolo"'s name, and under it smoke arising 
from the classical Arauco. Southward, a large extent of fertile, 
level, and rather woody plains reached to distant ranges of 
hills, which showed only a faint blue outline. Time allowed no 
dela})', but with a hasty glance, as we mounted our horses and 
cantered along the summit, I saw a schooner* in the distance, off 
the Paps of Bio Bio, working her way to the southward. 

Descending the hill, we reached ' Chivilingo,' a village near 
a small river which runs through a ' hacienda' belonging to 
the ' Santa Mana' family. We called at the door of their large, 
barn-like dwelling, to ask if horses could be spared. The mis- 
tress of the house happened to be at home, having lately 
ai'rived from Concepcion ; and directly she heard my story she 
ordered every horse to be put in requisition; but, unfortunately, 
two only were within reach, one of which was lame. All the 
others had been sent to grass at a distance. After acknowledg- 

* The Carmen, Avith Mr. Usborne on board— see pa^e 456. 


ing her kindness, and paying her ' mayor domo'' for the hire of 
the horse, we pushed on with that one and two of the least jaded 
of our own animals. 

Between Chivilingo and the rivulet called Laraquete is a 
hill, unimportant at present, though it may hereafter become 
of consequence, as it contains coal. Some that I carried away 
with me was thought to be almost equal to cannel coal, which 
it very much resembled. The little river Laraquete, which 
will admit a large boat at high water, runs at the foot of the 
hill, and there is no surf whei-e it enters the sea. Very glad I 
was then to see nothing like a hill between us and Arauco . 
We urged our horses along the dead level, and reached a pass 
of the Carampangue river as the sun was sinking below the 
horizon. From his sickly appearance and the black gathering 
clouds, I thought we should not be long without heavy rain, 
and that the sooner we could house ourselves the better. The 
Carampangue is shallow, except in the middle, but wide. Men 
and animals are carried over it on a ' balsa,' made of several 
logs of light wood fastened together, and pushed or poled 
across Avith their burdens by one man. These contrivances are 
very convenient where the water is shallow near the bank, and 
where the bank itself is low : for a horse can walk upon them 
from the shore without difficulty, or any scrambling ; and as 
soon as they ground on the opposite side, it is equally easy to 
disembark. Where wood is not plentiful, balsas are made of 
rushes tied together in bundles ; or of hides sewn up and in- 
flated, or made into a rough kind of coracle. 

The last few miles had been slowly accomplished by dint of 
whip and spur ; but from the river to Arauco was a long league 
over unknown ground, in the dark, and while rain fell fast. 
Heavily we toiled along, uncertain of our way, and expecting 
each minute to be bogged; our horses, however, improved as 
we neared their anticipated resting place, and almost tried to 
canter as lights appeared twinkling within an open gateway in 
the low wall of Arauco. * We asked for the house of the 'coman- 

• It is a low wall, or rather mound of earth, enclosing- a number of 
' ranches' (cottages or huts). 

438 VALENZUELA — AiiAuco. June 1835. 

dante,' and were directed to a rancho rather higher and larger 
than the rest. Without a question we were received, and told 
to make the house our own. That we were wet and tired, was 
a sufficient introduction to the hospitable Chilian. 

Before thinking of present comfort, it was necessary to secure 
horses for the next day's journey, and dispose of our own tired 
animals ; but money and the willing assistance of the coman- 
dante (Colonel Ger°. J. Valenzuela), soon ensured us both 
horses and a guide. In the colonel's house, a barn-like building, 
entirely of wood, and divided into three parts by low partitions, 
I was surprised to see an arm-chair of European make, which 
in no way corresponded to the rest of the furniture. Some large 
shells, not found in these seas, also caught my eye, and tempted 
me to ask their history. They had been brought only the 
previous day from the wreck of the Challenger, and were given 
by Captain Seymour to Don Geronimo, who had himself 
but just returned from assisting the shipwrecked party. His 
account and the chances of an attack being made by the Indians, 
increased our anxiety to proceed ; it would, however, have 
been worse than useless to attempt finding our way in a dark 
night, while it was raining fast and blowing very hard ; but 
at daybreak in the morning we saddled, and soon afterwards 
were splashing along the low flat tract of land extending from 
Arauco westward towards Tubul. Heavy rain during the night 
had almost inundated the low country, and to our discomfort 
appeared likely to continue dviring the day. In half an hour 
after starting we were soaked with mud and water ; but being 
well warmed by galloping, we felt indifferent to the rain, and 
to a heavy gale of wind that was blowing. 

Arauco, famous in Spanish song and history, is simply a 
small collection of huts, covering a space of about two acres, 
and scarcely defended from an enemy by a low wall or moimd 
of earth. It stands upon a flat piece of ground, at the foot 
of the Colocolo Heights, a range of steep, though low hills, 
rising about six hundred feet above the sea. 

In the sixteenth centui'y, Arauco was svirrounded by a fosse, 
a strong palisade, and a substantial wall, whose only opening 


Avas secured by a gate and drawbridge. Now the ditch, dug 
by the old Spaniards, is filled up, and the remains of their draw- 
bridge have disappeared, having been used probably as fuel. 
This was the first place assaulted by the Indians, after their 
grand union against the Spaniards, at the end of the sixteenth 
century. To relate even a part of the history of those times 
would be digressing too much ; but an anecdote of Colocolo 
and the great Caupolican may shorten our journey, and divert 
us for a time from mud, and rain, and wind. 

Ashamed at having given way to men, at first imagined to 
be gods, and indignant at the outrages and oppressions of their 
invaders, a general gathering of the Indian tribes took place 
near Arauco. Ercilla names sixteen caciques of renown, be- 
sides others of inferior fame, who assembled with their follow- 
ers. At the feast which followed their first consultation, great 
disputes arose among the rival caciques. A general was to be 
chosen, and each esteenried himself worthy of that high distinc- 
tion. Insulting words induced an appeal to arms, and desperate 
strife was about to commence, when Colocolo, the oldest and 
most respected chief, advancing hastily,* with haughty strides, 
exclaimed : — 

" What madness is exciting you, Caciques! 

Thus eagerly to rush into a war 

Against the very sources of our strength — 

To tear each other's entrails out, as beasts, 

And utterly forget the tyrant foe ? 

Turn your arms and angry blows 

Against those authors of your slavery, 

Whose shameful inroads on our fathers' land 

Heap infamy upon Arauco I 

Arauco's sons yourselves display — 

And cast their galling yoke away. 

Husband every drop of blood, 

To mingle with a Spanish flood!" 

Having gained attention and temporary silence, the Arau- 
canian Nestor continued an eloquent address to the angry 

* Ercilla, canto ii. 



chiefs, in which, after expostulating with them upon their 
ruinous rivalry ; he exhorted them to choose a leader by some 
trial of ability, which should be publicly made ; and suggested 
that the man who could bear a heavy weight for the longest 
time must be the fittest to endure the burthen of governing. 

The caciques agreed to his proposal, and prepared a large 
trunk of a tree for this great trial of strength. Colocolo well 
knew that the qualifications of an Indian general were not 
bodily strength and activity, unless accompanied by qualities 
of mind proportionably superior ; but it happened that Cau- 
polican exceeded all his countrymen in mental, and all but 
Lincoya in bodily qualifications. Accident had impeded his 
attendance at the ' gathering,' and the object of Colocolo in 
proposing so tedious and otherwise absurd a trial was to gain 
time for Caupolican's arrival. 

Fourteen chiefs successively bore the ponderous tree upon 
their shoulders. No one gave up the trial, until he had 
endured more than four hours' oppression ; some even sustained 
the burthen six, eight, or ten hours ; and one hardy mountaineer 
carried the tree for fifteen. But the famed Lincoya claimed 
the prize ; confiding in his Herculean strength, he had allowed 
all others to precede him in the trial. When at last he threw 
the mantle from his Atlas shoulders, he took the tree from the 
ground as if it had been a stick ; ran, jumped, and danced with 
it on his back, seeming to feel no weight ; and the multitude, 
astonished, exclaimed, ' Lincoya shall be general ! the rest are 
infants in comparison!' but the wise Colocolo insisted upon 
the completion of the trial, knowing that Caupolican would 
soon arrive, and that Lincoya's antics would exhaust even his 
great strength, and make it possible for an infei'ior to carry the 
tree longer. The crafty veteran had himself excited Lincoya to 
the unnecessary exertions which he knew would undermine 
him. From sunrise, until noon of the following day, full thirty 
hours, did the gigantic Lincoya sustain his immense- load. 
While the air yet resounded to the shouts of ' Lincoya,' Cau- 
polican arrived, and demanded to try his strength ; but Colo- 
colo interposed, saying that Caupolican had arrived from a 


great distance, and ought to rest. Until the next morning, 
therefore, the trial was postponed. 

Durina- the night. s;reat excitement animated the vast mul- 
titude. The strength and ability of Caupolican were well 
known ; even Lincoya doubted tlie result ; he had deemed his 
only rival far off; and the antics in which he had indulged 
had prematurely exhausted his strength. At daybreak the 
tribes again assembled, and as the sun rose, Caupolican lifted 
the tree, and quietly poised it upon his shoulder. His manner, 
and the ease with which he placed his burthen, excited the 
surprise and admiration of all, except Lincoya, whose spirits 
sunk as he watched the cautiously guarded manner and easy 
movements of his rival. 

During that day and the following night, lighted by the full 
moon ; during the whole of the next day, and throughout the 
second night, did Caupolican sustain that overpowering weight 
which men of common strength could only bear during a very 
feAV hours : and when the sun rose on the third morning, the 
still untired chief lifted the tree above his head, and dashed it to 
the ground, with an effort which showed that his powers were 
far from being exhausted. He was unanimously chosen general, 
amidst extraordinary shouting and applause : and no sooner 
had the other caciques acknowledged his authority, than he 
began to take measures for acting immediately against the 

Arauco, their nearest strong hold, was to be attacked. 
Eighty chosen men approached, disguised as the serving In- 
dians, who supplied the Spanish soldiers with firewood, and 
forage for their horses. Each man, with his load of fuel or 
grass, in which his arms were hidden, advanced unsuspected to 
the fort, when, by preconcerted signal, they threw down their 
loads and attacked the unprepared Spaniards. This assault was 
the signal for other Indians to rush towards the fort ; but the 
Spaniards, although surprised, made so good a defence, that 
almost all the eighty chosen men were killed, and no others 
could gain admittance. The whole Indian mviltitude then sur- 
rounded Arauco ; and the Spaniards, seeing that they must be 



overpowered if tliey remained, opened the gate in the dead of 
the night and escaped. Thus began this famed insurrection, 
which caused the destruction of seven towns, and drove every 
Spaniard from Araucania. 

Leaving the low land near the sea, we ascended sloping 
hills, and found ourselves in a beautiful country. Though I 
did not see it distinctly until my return, I will endeavour to 
describe it in this place: — the outer range of hills, near the 
sea, is a succession of downs, free from wood, except here and 
there in the valleys, and every where covered with short sweet 
grass : — there is no sandy or barren rocky land. Numbers of 
fine cattle were seen grazing in the neighbourhood, but very 
few sheep. In-shore of the downs is a very luxuriant country : 
gradually rising hills, every where accessible ; extensive val- 
leys, woods of fine timber trees, very little encumbered with 
underwood ; spaces of clear grass-land, like fields ; beautiful 
lakes, and numerous streams of excellent water, together with 
a rich soil clothed with sweet grass, disposed me to think this 
the finest country I had ever seen. 

Generally speaking, the soil is clayey ; but there is every 
where a layer of vegetable mould upon the surface; which 
indicates that the country was covered with wood until the 
Indians partially cleared it by burning. While they were so 
numerous as they are said to have been in the sixteenth century, 
large tracts of ground must have been cultivated by them, or 
cleared for their sheep. In riding across this now unemployed 
land, regretting at every mile that it should be so neglected, fine 
bullocks often crossed our path ; or wild-looking, but well- 
conditioned troops of horses. These animals must be very 
nearly wild : for restrained by no fences, looked after by no- 
body, they are free to roam and feed where they please. Once 
only in a year they are driven together, if they can be found, 
to be counted, marked, or killed. Here and there a stray cot- 
tage, or rather hut, was seen, with a high thatched roof, like 
those of Chiloe. But for these cottages, and a field or two near 
them, this excellent country would have appeared to be quite 
deserted by the human race, though possessing every desirable 


quality. We passed over no hills of any consequence as to 
height, though generally we were ascending or descending. An 
in-shore circuit was taken, to avoid crossing three rivers, which, 
near the sea, are difficult to pass ; and having lost our way 
(notwithstanding the alleged excellence of our guide), a native, 
almost Indian, was easily prevailed upon to run by the side of 
our horses until he put us into the right track. Before running 
through the bushes, he carefully tucked up his loose trousers 
as high as possible ; thinking, I suppose, that his skin was less 
likely to be torn than the trousers ; and thus bare-footed and 
bare-legged he ran before us for several miles with the greatest 
ease. At the cottage from which he came, a very good horse, 
in excellent condition, and well cleaned, was standing in a yard. 
I asked the owner to let me hire or buy him, but he would 
consent to neither ; alleging that, in the Indian country, his life 
depended upon having a good horse close at hand. Three 
thousand Indians had assembled, he told me, and were ex- 
pected to make an attack upon the Chilian frontier ; but on 
what particular part was quite uncertain. They had heard of 
the wreck, and wei*e actually going to the place to plunder 
the crew, when accidentally met and driven back by Colipi, 
with his friendly tribe. Dogs seem to be kept at these cottages 
for the same purpose as those at the ' ranchos,' in the Pampas, 
namely, to give warning of the approach of enemies. Small 
parties of Indians seldom or ever attack a house without 
reconnoitring carefully ; and this they cannot effect if there 
are many dogs about. 

After our running guide had left us, though put into the 
right track, we were soon at a loss again ; so numerous were 
the tracks of horses and cattle in this rich pasture land. The 
professed guide whom we had brought from Arauco, was more 
viseful in recovering half-tired horses, than from knowing the 
way : no sooner did he get upon a horse, which one of my 
party could not persuade to go out of a walk, than he started 
off^ at full gallop, exulting in his skill. Perhaps his secret lay 
in a sharp pair of iron spurs : for the thick skin and coarse 

444 QUiAPo — A ' KANCHo."' Junc 

hair of horses, so roughly kept as these, is proof against ordi- 
nary spurs, used with humanity. 

Going very much by chance, often losing our way, and 
often taking a cast round to look for the most frequented track, 
we at last arrived at Quiapo, a hamlet consisting of five huts 
only, just in sight of one another on neighbouring hills. To 
which of them the name belongs, I know not, as ' Todo es 
Quiapo,' was all the answer I could get from my guide. 

Riding up to the nearest hut, we tempted a young man 
who occupied it, to sally forth in the rain in search of fresh 
horses. This exertion was caused by the sure stimulant — 
money. We might have talked of the wreck, and the Indians, 
until that day month, without exciting our acquaintance to 
move ; but the touch of dollars at once overcame the apathy 
with which he listened to our first request for food and horses. 
His wife told us to kill a fowl, if we could, for there was nothing 
else to be had ; so forth we sallied, and as each understood 
that the permission applied to himself, great was the confu- 
sion among the poultry. To the dismay of our hostess, we 
soon reappeared, each with a fowl ; but a certain silver talisman 
quickly hushed her scolding, and set her cooking. Meanwhile 
the rancho was ornamented with our wet clothes hanging 
about it to be dried ; but rain came through the roof in so many 
places that our trouble was useless. Dripping wet, having been 
soaked since the morning, and of course cold, we could not 
go near the fire, because of the smoke ; so with a long pole we 
poked a hole through the thatch, which let the smoke out, and 
then closing round the fire, we surprised the good woman by 
our attack upon her half-roasted fowls. 

All these huts are much alike. Under one thatched roof, 
there is a place where all the family (including the dogs, 
cats, and pigs) eat, while sitting or lying round the fire, which 
is on the ground in the middle ; and there is a kind of ' dais,""* 
where the same party afterwards seek that sound sleep from 
which none of the insect tribe appear to awake them, however 
* Raised half a foot above the ground. 


much they may plague others. Sometimes there is a sort of bed- 
stead, and a shght partition for the older people ; but the others 
take their rest upon the raised part of the floor, wrapped in sheep- 
skins, or goat-skins, and rough woollen clothes. A large heap 
of potatoes occupies one corner of the hut, and another is filled 
by a granary, curiously contrived with stakes about six feet in 
length, driven into the ground in a circle of perhaps six feet 
diameter. Rough wicker-work unites the stakes, and forms a 
bottom about half a foot from the ground. Straw is then 
inserted into the wattled-work, until there is enough to prevent 
any com from falling thi'ough. This large fixed basket is filled 
at harvest time, and supplies the family during the whole year : 
neither rat or mouse can get at it without making a rustling 
noise, which instantly alarms each cat and dog. 

Before our host returned with horses it Avas evening. He 
would have detained us until the next morning, could his 
arguments have availed, but finding that with or without liim, 
on we were resolved to go, he set out at a good pace towards 
Leiibu. Less rain and wind encouraged hopes of a fine night, 
so we trotted or galloped along while day-light lasted, but as 
the night grew dark rain again poured down : and, obliged 
then to go slowly, we followed one another as close as pos- 
sible, placing the guide in front with a white poncho. While 
in the open country we got on pretty well, but, after two 
hours easy work, we found that the track was taking us 
through thick woods. My first intimation of the change was 
being nearly knocked off my horse by the bough of a tree, 
so pitchy dark was the night ; and after this I kept my head 
on the horse's neck, trusting to his eyes entirely, for I 
could see nothing. That our guide could find the way has 
been matter of astonishment to me ever since : he never failed 
once. Some of the defiles through which he led were knee- 
deep in clayey mud, so stiiF that the horses could hardly 
move. Often we were set fast in such places, obliged to get 
off, and feel for the track, — knee-deep, and up to our elbows 
in mud, — for it was upon hands and knees that we went, 
oftener than upon our legs. Our guide knew we were in the 


right track, but each of us was obliged to seek safe footing 
for himself and his horse, in the defiles among steep ravines 
and streams, swelled by heavy rains. Passing these streams 
was danger^as, and there only did the guide hang back. At 
one brook which seemed by the noise, to be deep and large, 
he refused to cross, saying his horse would not go on, and 
that we could not get over in the dark. However, Vogelborg 
was not to be so stopped. Leaving his own horse stuck fast 
in a slough, he scrambled through, hauling my horse after 
him by the bridle. Holding by my horse's long tail, and 
drivinp" him on, I scrambled after : Vogelborg then went 
back, and with the guide brought the others over. In several 
places, while in the ravines, I had recourse to the tail of the 
guide''s horse for my support and dragged my own animal 
after me, for it was hopeless to remain on his back, so often 
was he stuck fast or down in the mud. The last man. Fuller, 
fared the worst, as he had no one behind him to drive his 
horse on ; and frequently we were obliged to stop and holla 
to one another, to avoid parting company. At last we emerged 
from the wood and from those horrible ravines. Before us 
we could then see that there was space, nothing interfering 
between our eyes and the clouds ; but while under the trees 
and in the water courses, utter blackness surrounded us to a 
degree I never witnessed in any other place. Our eyes were 
not of the least use, for I could not even see the white poncho 
of our guide, though close before me. Feeling and hearing 
alone availed. Heavy rain during the whole time prevented 
the mud from forming too thick a coat upon us. Another 
hour brought our small party to an Indian settlement, near 
the river Leiibu ; and as we rode by the huts, our guide 
talked to those within at the utmost pitch of his voice, as if 
determined no one should be ignorant of his adventure. 
Hearing their conversation carried on in the Indian language, 
was rather an impressive novelty. We continued our route, 
and at last reached the Leiibu. 

The north side of this river (on which we were), is low and 
sandy near the sea, but the south side rises to a high, remark- 


able headland, called the ' Heights of old Tucapel,' — (' Altos 
de Tucapel viejo.') The breadth of the river is about one 
hundred yards. Tucapel was the name of one of the more 
powerful caciques who united under Caupolican, to resist and 
expel the Spaniards. In his district and near his usual resi- 
dence, which bore the same name, the daring but avaricious 
Valdivia was overwhelmed by numbers and taken prisoner, 
though not until every one of his small party had desperately 
fought and devotedly died for the cause which many among 
them considered that of God and their king. 

Religion had so much influence over the minds of the earlier 
Spaniards, and was so warped and misinterpreted by the 
priests of their day, that actions, in themselves most unjusti- 
fiable, found defenders and active supporters among church- 
men, and energetic performers among those who trusted their 
consciences to other men's keeping. An enthusiastically reli- 
gious feeling, strengthened them to persevere under all trials 
and disappointments, and helps to account for the wonderful 
energy and constancy, shown in discovering, exploring and 
subduing the New World. This high sentiment of religion, 
urging them to conquer in order to convert to Christianity, 
and to honour God by serving their king, was an impelling 
motive in the minds of the early adventurers, at least as strong 
as the desire of riches. I here allude to those leaders who first 
opened the roads, which crowds of inferior men afterwards 
followed. One proof of this feeling is the fact, that the last of 
Valdivia's faithful companions who fell, was his chaplain, with- 
out whom, it appears, he did not even go to battle. 

Valdivia had set out in the morning with only fifty 
Spaniards, besides a body of friendly Indians, intending to 
attack and disperse the multitude of his opponents. As he 
approached Tucapel, some fugitive friends* entreated him not 
to proceed, assuring him that twenty thousand Indians were 
there who had sworn to take his life, or sacrifice their own. 
Despising the natives and used to conquer, Valdivia listened 

• Friendly Aborigines. 

44S LAUTAUO — valdivia's death. 

to no cautions. The three thousand Indians, supposed to 
be friendly, accompanied him to the battle but turned against 
him : and his own page, Lautaro, who there immortalized his 
name among his countrymen, was the first to set the example 
and proved himself the most daring in the fight. (It should 
be mentioned that Lautaro's servitude was compulsory, having 
been brought up against his inclination, in the Spaniard's 
house.)* Onward dashed Valdivia, at the head of his small 
band, and was speedily surrounded by a countless throng. 
Hemmed in on every side, and overpowered by men who till 
then used to fly from a man in armour and mounted on a horse, 
all that desperate brave men could do, was done: but their 
horses tired, slaughter appeared to diminish neither the number 
nor rage of their opponents, and one after another sunk to the 
ground. Valdivia's chaplain fell the last, except the general 
himself, who fought like a lion at bay : till, seeing that he 
was alone, he turned and fled. The goodness of his horse 
enabled him to escape for a little while, but he was hunted by 
the swiftest and strongest, whose speed exceeded that of a 
tiring horse. His steed failed, and he was taken prisoner to be 
tortured and put to death, after suffering every torment that 
savage ingenuity could devise. When he was at the stake, the 
rage of the older Indians could not be repressed : and an aged 
man named Leocato, who had suffered long and severely by 
Spanish oppression, struck him on the head with his club, and 
at one blow deprived him of life. 

Although surrounded by a multitude, so resolute and 
energetic were the companions of Valdivia, that they were 
actually gaining the day, until Lautaro rallied the retreating 
Indians, and by his heroism turned the tide of victory against 
the Spaniards. The natives' superstitious awe of these superior 
men, once thought gods, added to their being mounted on 

* Lautaro was the son of an Araucanian chieftain, who fell in battle 
against the enemies of his race. Though brought up and educated in 
the family of Valdivia, from a mere child, he had never ceased to long 
for an opportunity of turning his forced acquirements to the disadvantage 
of his instructors, and revenging the death of his father. 

1835. FIND challenger's crew. 449 

horseback and clad in armour, were such immense advantages, 
that to oppose the progress of a few resolute Spaniards even 
by the numbers of a multitude, was a daring effort. 

In consequence of this and many subsequent acts of valour 
and conduct, the young Lautaro became a most celebrated 
leader, and was chosen by Caupolican as his lieutenant and 

But I must return to the banks of the Lelibu, which we 
were approaching as fast as our tired horses could drag their 
hoofs through deep, loose sand, when a solitary light moving 
on the dark side of the opposite high land, showed the place 
where our countrymen were anxiously waiting for assistance ; 
we had heard that their encampment was under Tucapel 
Heights, and close to the river's mouth. 

As soon as we arrived at the water side, I hailed as loudly 
as I could call, but no answer was returned. Again I hailed 
" Challenger's a-hoy," and a faint ' hallo ' repaid us for every 
difficulty. " Send a boat !" I called. " Aye, aye !" echoed from 
the hills. Lights appeared directly coming down the hill : a lit- 
tle boat came across the river, and very soon we were embarked 
in the Challenger's dinghy,* the only boat saved. The mas- 
ter and one man were in her, from whom we heard that all the 
party were well, and that they had not yet been molested by 
natives. - — -r- 

Captain Seymour was at the landing place. Old friends, 
meeting under such circumstances, can say but little. Hasten- 
ing to the encampment, where all had turned out to hear 
the welcome news of assistance being at hand, we made their 
hearts rejoice by saying that the Blonde was at Talcahuano, 
and coming to their relief. With the officers, I found oiu* 
excellent consul, Mr. Rouse.-^ At the first intimation of the 
Challenger's loss, he had hastened to the spot without an hour's 
delay ; well aware how useful his influence and information 
would prove, and supposing that the officers would not be 

* At Dudnight. The horses were sent back to the Indian huts, with 
whose owners our guide held such noisy intercourse as we passed, 
t H. B. Majesty's consul at Concepcion. 
VOL. II. 2 G 

450 MB. rouse's assistance. June. 

conversant in Araucanian habits and language, even if they 
should have made a slight acquaintance with those of Chile. 
His assistance proved to be of the utmost consequence, for not 
only did his explanations intimidate and discourage open or 
disguised enemies, who were not wanting, but his credit and 
influence procured daily supplies of provisions: while to his 
address and good sense every one of the shipwrecked crew 
was much indebted in many transactions. 

Dayhght found Seymour and myself still talking, though 
he had given me his bed. Partly at that time, and partly in 
subsequent conversations, he gave me the following account of 
the loss of the Challenger ; but without mentioning his own 
exertions or conduct, which I heard of from his officers. 

I will take this opportunity of mentioning that there is a large fox, 
called ' culpen,' in the Araucanian country, which was mentioned to me as 
heing more like a wolf than a fox; but at that time I paid very little atten- 
tion to the subject. Stevenson sa}'s, " the culpen is rather more foolish 
than daring, but not void of the latter quality. It will advance within eight, 
or ten paces of a man, and after looking at him for some time, will retire 
carelessly." " Its colour is a dark reddish brown, with a long straight 
tail covered with shaggy hair; its height is about two feet." — Stevenson's 
South America, vol. i. p. 115. (Is not this like the Falkland animal?) 

(Note referred to in page 423.) 

(a) UUoa said that the word ' cochayuyo ' meant 'lake herb.' His 
authority is too good to be lightly questioned, otherwise I should have 
had no doubt that the word was derived from * cochun,' ' salt,' or ' bitter,' 
and ' yu,' a thread : as the plant grows with long thread-like stalks, which 
taste salt, like most sea-weed : and ' lavquen ' is the word generally used 
for ' lake,' as well as * sea,' rather than ' cocha.' 


Challenger sails — Sounds off Mocha — Wrecked on the main-land — Crew 
saved — Stores landed — Camp formed — Great exertions and excellent 
conduct — Mr. Consul Rouse — LeUbu— Plague of mice— Curious rats — 
Return to Blonde — Ulpu — Araucanian dress — Arauco — ' Boroanos' — 
Tubul — Bar rivers — Apples — Ferry — Blonde sails — Seek for the 
Leubu— Schooner Carmen— Errors and delay — Embark Challenger's 
crew — Rescue the Carmen — Talcahuano — New Concepcion — Valpa- 
raiso — Coquimbo— Challenger's sail in Conway — Reflections. 

The Challenger sailed from Rio de Janeiro on the 3d of 
April 1835 : she had much bad weather off Cape Horn, which 
lengthened her passage considerably. 

On the 18th and 19th of May, strong north-west winds, with 
thick weather and heavy rain, prevented observations being 
taken ; except a few for time only. The ship was approaching 
the land, and her position estimated by dead reckoning from 
the last observations. 

At five P.M. on the 19th, the Challenger hove-to, bent 
cables, unstowed the anchors, and soimded, but no bottom was 
found with two hundred and ten fathoms of line. This sound- 
ing was taken as a matter of form rather than utility, for no 
one supposed that the ship could be less than fifty miles from 
a steep coast, oif which soundings extend a very little way. At 
this time, she was really about twelve miles from Mocha, which 
bore from S.E. to S. The weather was clear overhead, but too 
hazy near the horizon to see land, or any object distant more 
than four or five miles. Mocha is high, bold land, which in 
clear weather may be seen at thirty, forty, or even fifty miles 
distance ; but soundings are no guide in its neighbourhood. 
They are irregular, and indeed not to be got, except very near 
the land. 

A course was shaped for passing Santa Maria, and approach- 
ing the entrance of Concepcion Bay ; and with a strong wind 
from W.N.W., the ship ran eight or nine knots an hour, under 
treble-reefed topsails, courses, and jib, steering N.b.E. until 

VOL. II. 2 G 2 


eight o''clock, when it was thought prudent to haul to the wind 
until daylight. By many on board even this step was deemed 
unnecessary caution. Captain Seymour proposed putting her 
head to the south-west till daylight ; but the master felt so 
confident of the ship's place, and so much disliked the idea of 
losing both time and ground, that his opinion was preferred, 
and her head was kept to the northward. About nine, or soon 
after that time, the Challenger was lying from N. to N. | E., 
going about four knots, under the sail before-mentioned. The 
wind had moderated ; but a thick haze surrounded the ship, 
though the sky overhead was clear. 

Captain Seymour had been walking the deck for some time, 
and had only just gone to his cabin, when a change in the 
appearance* of the water alongside, and an unusual motion of 
the ship, startled the officer of the watch, and induced him to 
order the 'helm' down and ' about ship,' while a midshipman 
was sent to tell the captain there was a suspicious alteration in 
the water. Just then breakers were seen by the look-out men 
and by the officer of the watch at the same moment ; and as 
the captain flew up the ladder, (the ship coming round) he 
saw her position, and gave the order, ' mainsail haul,' as she 
was rising to a heavy rolling breaker. The after-yards swung 
round, but while bracing them up, she struck heavily ; then